Beginner hiking is a hobby that is suitable for just about everyone. It is a simple way to get outdoors and enjoy nature. You will only need minimal supplies to get started and most hiking trails are free unless inside a state park, where you may have to pay a minimal fee for entry.
Hiking has the double bonus of being good for your health as well as being a fun pastime. It can be done alone or in groups. Hiking is also a wonderful springboard for other fun hobbies such as photography and woodworking. Exploring forests and fields is a wonderful way to let your imagination soar and to let your worries drift away.
The History Of Hiking
Although there is no exact date, it is believed that the history of beginner hiking as a hobby began in or around the early 1800’s. Remember that mankind has been hiking or trekking in one sense or the other for thousands of years. In one case there is historical evidence showing that a father and son team by the names of Abel and Ethan Crawford cleared an 8.5-mile trial to the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire in 1819. The trail is now considered by many in the hobby of hiking to be the oldest continuously used hiking trail in the country.
The Appalachian Trail is wonderful for beginner hiking as well as those looking for an advanced hike excursion. The Appalachian Trail is one of the most widely used trails in the United States. The trail was created in 1921 but formal trail work did not start until 1928. The trail was officially completed in 1937. The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine and is 2,179 miles long. You can hike the entire trail, which takes about 6 months or you may choose to hike small sections, which is wonderful for the beginner hiker.
Hiking is known by many different names around the world. In the United Kingdom it is known as hill walking. In Australia it is called bush walking and in New Zealand it is known as tramping. In Africa and India it is known as trekking.
Hiking Fun Facts
- In 1985 Dick Bass reached the summit of Mt. Everest and became the first person to reach the summits of seven of the highest peaks on every continent excluding Antarctica.
- In 1918, the White Mountain National Forest was created through a presidential proclamation following the Weeks Act that allowed the Government to purchase private land to establish National Forest Reserves, which later became National Forests.
- Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the very first people to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953.
- When two groups of hikers meet on a steep trail, often the group moving uphill has the right-of-way or, in other situations, the larger of the two groups should give way to the smaller.
Getting Started With Beginner Hiking
Although no formal training is needed to begin hiking, some basic points can help avoid potential problems that may arise with hiking. Most importantly, the primary premise of hiking is to enjoy the countryside while leaving no trace of your journey behind. In the UK, they actually use this code of conduct as guidelines for their national parks as well as helping to keep each hiker accountable for their actions.
Another important point to consider is if you are equipped to go hiking. Depending on the locale, you will benefit greatly from taking a little extra time picking out your clothing before you go hiking. Sturdy footwear is essential to hiking. No special shoes or boots are necessary for a beginning hiker. A clean and comfortable pair of socks that are a cotton and synthetic blend are best as they tend to wick or pull moisture away from the feet. It is also important to be prepared for changing weather. Layering clothing is a great way to prepare for potential weather changes. You may wear shorts, however, be aware of the vegetation and stay away from it. Long pants are recommended in cooler weather.
A small backpack is a great piece of equipment for the beginning hiker. You should carry the following: a first aid kit, your fully charged cell phone, sun block, trail map, bug spray, water and some snacks. Put bug spray on before you leave for your hike. Most people already own most of the equipment mentioned. As such, it shouldn’t cost more than an average of $10.00 to get started with beginner hiking.
If you are taking up hiking for the potential health benefits, be careful to only hike if you feel well enough to do so. Though rare, there are stories of people who start hiking and due to some health issue need medical assistance to return safely home. Most hiking spots are remote and thus medical help is often far away, so take extra precaution if you don’t feel well or if you start to feel ill.
Steps For Beginner Hiking
If you are not sure of where to start, there are many places to hike near you. Local parks have trails that are freely available to the general public, in addition state parks often supply trails and hiking at a small fee. On a national level, there are even some national trails that are organized and maintained for the sole purpose of hiking such as the Appalachian Trail. The governing bodies website will provide you with an overwhelming amount of information. Whatever you can’t find from the state or local parks department can easily be found online with a little searching.
Once you’ve picked the place you want to hike, and you have a partner to help keep you safe, the first thing to do is read the trail map and choose your route. Most well maintained trails have maps on the physical trail for you to read as you hike, but you should have a fairly good idea of where you are going and how long you intend to hike before you begin.
Once you have chosen your path, verified you have the needed gear to hike, and made sure you feel well enough, get hiking! Be sure to take breaks along the way to rest and stay hydrated. If you like, you can occupy your time by looking at the plants and trees around you and try to identify them. You could do the same with birds and animals.
When you get home, be sure to take care of your gear. If your shoes are wet or dirty, dry them out and wipe them clean to prevent moisture and grime from ruining them. Store all of your hiking gear together in one place so that it is all easily accessible the next time you go to hike.
Tips and Tricks
The following beginner hiking tips and tricks can help you get the most out of this great hobby…
- Purchase a pair of gaiters. Gaiters will prevent scratches and numerous poisonous plants like ivy and sumac from getting on your skin.
- Always carry a cell phone, one form of I.D. and enough water for your journey.
- Do not drink from a water source unless it is a fountain. Natural water sources carry bacteria and germs.
- Check the time before your hike, as you do not want to get caught in the dark.
Expanding Your Hiking Hobby
Once you have decided to move from beginner hiking it is easy to move up and become more advanced. There are many books available on hiking and trekking. You can do online research but be sure it is a reputable source.
- Physically you will have to build up your endurance and skill. You will have to learn what gear is necessary on longer hikes, how to protect yourself from plants and animals that may pose a risk and learn how to read a trail map correctly.
- A great way to build the sport of hiking is by sharing your adventures. Take a camera with you to take pictures, invite friends, set up a chart of all the places you have hiked so that you can share your experiences with your friends.
- Extend your hiking excursions by going on an overnight camping hike.
- Try hiking in the winter with the use of snowshoes or cross country skis.
Related Hiking Resources
Check out the following online resources for more information on beginner hiking…
HikingForums.net – a great online resource where hikers can chat with other like-minded hiking enthusiasts.
Gorp – a great hiking resource that lets you search for hiking trails by state and country.
Hiking and Backpacking.com – site that lists hiking tips and tricks and well as various hiking product reviews for beginner hiking.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.