Hiking in the outdoors can be a healthy and rewarding experience. If you’re just starting out though, or even if you’re a seasoned veteran, you might want to consider some of these ways to maximize your time outside.
Decide Why You’re Hiking in the First Place
Are you training for an ascent of all of the seven summits? Are you introducing coworkers to your cherished time spent away from work? Maybe you’re convincing your partner to finally commit to living a healthier lifestyle. Whatever the reason for your decision to go on a day hike, these suggestions will help get you in the mindset of planning for your day on the trail.
Understand Your Hiking Group’s Dynamic
A solo day hike will require different preparation than if you’re hiking with a group. If you volunteered to lead the big day out for your group, it is your responsibility to choose a trail that’s accessible to everyone in your party. It’s best if you have an understanding of everyone’s fitness levels, or you can at least gauge that the trail you’re choosing works for all hiking abilities. New hikers will not enjoy lagging behind the party because the trail you’ve chosen is too steep for them, for example.
Research the Hiking Route
Once you’ve decided what kind of trail is best for your needs, look up information on the trail. See if you can find and read trip reports online of others who’ve done the hike before. For example, maybe there’s a bridge closure on the trail that makes a river crossing dangerous and that’s not included in a book’s description of the trail, but is in someone’s trip report. Talk to park rangers or other experts at an outdoor gear shop. The more information you can find out about the trail you’ve chosen, the better.
Plan for Fees and Other Expenses
A lot of accessible hiking trails require purchasing a parking pass or entrance to a recreation area of some kind. The last thing you want to see upon returning from an all-day adventure on the trail is a parking ticket. Again, if you’re with a group, let people know the costs involved with getting outdoors and find ways to share the expense of getting to and from the trail.
Sometimes hiking involves a different kind of fun than is associated with a standard definition of the word “fun”. To scale an arduous trail which leads to unobstructed views of vast, expansive landscapes requires mental fortitude. Sometimes even getting up from the couch to change the TV channel does, right? However, as you or your group gains experience, you’ll learn that such rewards reaped from physical and mental exertion often far outweigh any kind of negativity involved in the process of getting there.
Here are some resources for you to plan your next day on the trail:
- Pacific Northwest: http://www.pnt.org/trail/every-day-hikes/
- Northeast: http://gearpatrol.com/2014/04/24/best-northeast-day-hikes/
- Southwest: http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-top-hikes-in-the-southwest-sidwcmdev_155241.html
- Southeast: http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-top-hikes-in-the-southeast-sidwcmdev_155327.html
Remember that even if a trail is much longer than what you could expect to do in one day, you can always to a shortened out-and-back. Enjoy your time out there!