How to Choose a Hiking Trail If You Haven’t Hiked Before

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyWhile hiking is a simple hobby, knowing how to hike well is something that comes through experience. The more you hike, the better you understand your capabilities, and what a trail will be like. After a few hiking trips you learn to gauge how manageable a trail is for you based on things such as the distance and difficulty of a trail that. You can look at the mileage and the change in elevation and know whether it will be leisurely or challenging. It almost becomes second nature. So how do you choose a hiking trail if you haven’t hiked before? Here are a few things that you should consider when choosing a hiking trail.

Your level of fitness

Your overall health and fitness level play a big role in choosing a hiking trail. Do you exercise? Do you have health issues such as joint pain or asthma? How often do you go for a run or walk? People in better health can manage more difficult trails.

Your outdoor experience

Even if you don’t hike, you may be experienced outdoors. Maybe you go camping regularly or hunting every year. If you’re inexperienced out in nature, you should avoid remote and rugged hiking trails. Stick to popular, maintained hiking trails until you have a few hiking miles under your belt.

Length of the trail

Generally speaking, you should look for shorter trails when choosing your first few hikes. Even a 3-4 miles can seem like a long hike if you’re not used to walking long distances. If you walk or run everyday, you may be able to handle longer trails.

Change in elevation

Elevation change, or the amount of incline and decline on a trail, directly influences the difficulty of your hike. More elevation change means a harder hike. To make sure that you enjoy your first few trails, and to help you get a sense of what change in elevation feels like, look for trails that have minimal elevation change.

General hiking tips

Here are a few hiking tips that can help you choose a hiking trail that’s right for you.

  • It’s better to start small and build your way up to more challenging hiking trails.
  • The average hiking speed is 2/3 miles per hour. Consider this when planning out your hike.
  • It can be difficult for older adults and young children to finish longer hikes. Keep this in mind when choosing
  • Regardless of the length or difficulty of your hike, make sure you’re adequately prepared with food, outdoor gear, and water.
  • Do your research before hitting the trail. Many trails have online guides, descriptions, or reviews.
  • Always take a buddy with you, and leave a note with your travel itinerary.

Stop by and see us in Fayetteville, Arkansas for any of your hiking or backpacking supplies needs!

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