Art of Hiking – Part 2, Planning a Hike

It’s almost summer! Which means the weather is perfect for getting outside.

I understand that sometimes hiking can seem daunting just for the mere fact of having to plan and navigate. But never fear! With these tips and tricks you’ll be out on the trails in no time.

First step, research. Now this is coming from a very Type A planner, but researching the area and hike you want to do will remove the intimidation factor and allow you to enjoy yourself. Pinterest and Instagram are good if you know the name of the area or trail you want to take.

I also use several apps prior to going on a hike and during. All Trails is good as it’s used widely and has a decent database of hikes with relatively accurate info. The search functionality on it is just ok by typing words, and in my opinion quite poor when looking at a map.

Which is why the second app I utilize is Hiking Project (by REI). Hiking project allows you to look at a map from a location and see all trails available. You can select each trail and find the info on the trail (mileage, elevation, etc.) This app is also built by users, and unfortunately seems to have less of following than All Trails so the info is a little more sparse.

Understanding how to read these apps takes a little time and work, but you can get the hang of it fairly quickly!

Next a map. Finding these online is simple when you know where you’re visiting. State parks, city parks and national parks are all accessible online. Or you can buy a map of a region. I like NatGeo and Tom Harrison maps.

If you’re visiting a National Park specifically, the NP website will be your go-to resource. Blogs and the apps are great to hear other’s perspectives on their favorite hikes, but the Park’s website will be your lifeline. All trail decriptions are accurate and typically categorized by difficulty. Plus it will inform you if any roads or trails are closed due to various reasons. In any case, always ask a ranger if there is any hazards to be aware of.

If you’re new to hiking, but have a decent fitness level (run or cross-train semi-regulary) starting a 4-6 mile hike with less than 1000 ft. elevation should be fine. Of course, the higher elevation that you start out with, the more difficult this can become. Yay lack of oxygen.

Necessities to bring on a hike include – water (1 liter for every 2 hours of hiking), snacks (granola bar, dried fruit, etc.), first aid kit, waterproof jacket, map/compass, sunscreen, chapstick, towel, tissue/toilet paper and a reusable bag (always pack out, #LNT). I typically also carry an extra pair of socks, headwrap, and a buff/neckwrap.

Now if you’re doing any sort of remote or backcountry trail, even if for a day hike, this list needs to grow. Adding some sort of tent structure, headlamp/torch and more layers would be necessary in the case something were to happen and you were stuck in the wild overnight.

You’re now ready! In a few weeks I’ll post my favorite clothing, gear and layering techniques for day hikes.

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