Erica Digap / Mar 21

An Intro To Hiking For Beginners  

Erica Digap / Mar 21

Spring has officially sprung! And if you’re tired of being cooped up and dealing with major cabin fever after the long and stormy winter, you’re probably itching to get out into the sunshine, get your body moving in the fresh air, and see those beautiful new blooms this new season has brought along with it. In other words: it’s the perfect time for a hike! 

Hiking is one of the best ways to get quality exercise while enjoying the beautiful gifts that Mother Nature has given to us, but it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Here’s a complete beginner’s guide to hiking, including how to pick a trail, what you need to bring, and how to get the most out of your trip, plus hiking tips to make sure you stay safe while enjoying those gorgeous views. 

Step One: Choosing a hiking trail

The very first step to take while planning your first hike as a beginner hiker is to decide which hiking trail to explore! 

There are several types of hikes of all different difficulty levels, distances, and terrains. You should pick your trail based on your fitness level and the kind of hike that you’re looking to do. Are you just trying to get out in the fresh air for an hour or two? If so, look for an easy nature trail with minimal incline. On the other hand, if you’re trying to get an intense workout in, look for more challenging trails with plenty of inclines. 

Taking a look at your local National Park or State Park is always a good place to start to find well-maintained trails of all levels. If you’ve just started hiking, look for well-maintained trails in your area that are popular and fairly busy so that you can begin your trek in a safer environment. 

If you’re brand-new to hiking (or just not too familiar with the area) it’s always a good idea to do some research on the trail before you go. Check apps like AllTrails or Hiking Project to read up on the trail conditions during the time of the year. Make sure to check the weather, especially if you’re doing a hike during a time when inclement weather is common. What you wear hiking will be dictated by the weather. 

Step Two: Pack and dress for the trek

Next, you’ll want to make sure that you’re bringing everything you’ll need while you’re out on the trail. If you’re going for a quick day hike, you can get away with just a few bare necessities. However, if you’re going for longer hikes, you’ll want to make sure that you’re well-prepared. 


Other hiking essentials

Step Three: Safety First 

When you’re navigating unfamiliar territory on your own two feet, being prepared matters. 

Hiking is better in groups.

It’s always a good idea to enlist the buddy system on a hike. Recruit a friend to come along with you, or check your local outdoor enthusiast Facebook groups to find hiking groups. This is also a great idea if you’re looking to explore more advanced trails and need a more experienced guide to come along with you.  

In addition, make sure to tell someone who isn’t on the hike where you’re going, what time you’re planning on hitting the trailhead, and an expected time for your return. 

Prepare for emergencies.

Hopefully you’ll never have to use this section, but it’s always more important to be prepared for the possibilities! After all, hiking often takes you to less-populated and wilder regions, which means the potential of encountering dangers like wild animals, dangerous terrain, or other humans.

 So staying safe on the trail means brushing up on what you should do if you encounter one of these potentially dangerous situations. For example: 

This is another good reason to do plenty of research on the trail of your choice ahead of time! Knowing potential risks ahead of time gives you an opportunity to be better prepared. 

Make sure you’re physically ready for the trek. 

It’s a good idea to know your own fitness level since hikes can be very draining. If your goal is to complete a particularly challenging trail, you may need to do some training. Train for hiking by going on walks around your neighborhood, increasing the incline on your treadmill, or hiking shorter and milder local trails to get a feel for the movement. 

Finally, it’s always a good idea to do some light dynamic stretching beforehand to get limbered up. 

Step Four: Leave no trace!

Now it’s time to finally hit the trail! Take it slow, watch your footing, and always stay alert to your surroundings at all times. 

Finally, it’s always important to practice “Leave No Trace” principles whenever you’re visiting a natural area: in other words, don’t leave anything behind or disturb any of the natural features of the trail — or take anything from it, either. It’s also a good idea to rinse your hiking boots between each hike to avoid cross-contamination between trails since you might pick up hitchhiking critters or seeds and sprouts while you’re exploring. This is a great way to keep each ecosystem healthy and minimize the risks of bringing invader species to other locales. 


Hiking makes for great exercise and a great time, and spring is an excellent time to witness all the beautiful sights that nature has to offer. Before you get started hiking, make sure that you’re familiar with the trail you choose,  go in groups, and bring along all the gear and navigation tools you’ll need. Now get out there and enjoy the view!