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Hiking Trip Guide for Beginners: Planning, Tips, & More

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Hiking Trip Guide for Beginners: Planning, Tips, & More
A well-planned hiking trip lets you explore safely and interact with nature in the best way possible. But the hiking path can be full of thorns too, so how do you prepare well to make the most of your adventure? I'm here to help you learn!
Abigail Sinsona
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Abigail is a travel enthusiast who enjoys trying new foodie destinations. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and has worked as a web content writer since 2010. She enjoys writing about travel, lifestyle, beauty, hair care, and wellness.

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A hike is any outdoor activity that allows you to spend time in a natural setting. This setting can be a park, forest, or mountain. Whether you’re planning for a short or long hike, planning to be safe and fully enjoy the wilderness is essential. 

Each hiking trip is unique, and the preparation entailed for each journey is different. So, what do you need for a hiking trip? And where do you find the best hiking destinations for your next adventure?

Look no further because I’ve got everything you need to know to plan that perfect hike. An excellent way to get started would be to download these free apps to keep you company on your hiking trip! 

What to Wear on a Hiking Trip

For every activity you engage in, dressing right is one of the key things to consider. Every hike is different, so study the conditions on the trail before you. 

4. Hiking Shoes

Wearing the proper shoes to keep your feet comfortable on the trail is a must. Research the type of terrain you’re dealing with so you can choose your shoes accordingly. 

The Columbia Crestwood Hiking Shoe offers advanced cushioning for unmatched comfort and performance. If you’re looking for advanced traction on rough ground, the Newton Ridge Hiking Boot is an excellent choice.

Two pairs of hiking shoes on a rough hilly terrain
Photo by Ceci Bravo on Unsplash

3. Hiking Pants or Shorts

Invest in specialized hiking pants or shorts to protect you from the trail conditions. Depending on where you’re hiking, you could encounter boulders, plants, and rock formations.

Choose hiking pants or shorts with temperature-regulating fabric and water-repellent quality to sustain you during the hike.

2. Base Layer

You can opt for a short sleeve or long sleeve shirt made with merino wool and synthetic fabric. 

If you’re hiking on hot days, choose a shirt with sun protection and breathability. 

The best fabric types for layering are wool and polyester. These fabrics can wick away moisture and dry quickly.

1. Rain Jacket

Weather can be unpredictable sometimes, even if you’re planning for sunny conditions on the trail. So always pack a rain jacket or windbreaker before you set out for the trails.

Wearing a rain jacket will keep you warm and dry in case of an unexpected drizzle. Do well to invest in a rain jacket that’s both breathable and waterproof. 

Once you’re ready to hit the trails with your hiking ensemble, you can refer to this hiking trip packing list for what to pack for a hiking trip. And to be sure you have all the necessary equipment. 

Woman in yellow rain jacket in a forest
Photo by Adrian Infernus on Unsplash

Planning a Hiking Trip

Knowing how to plan a hiking trip will save you a lot of stress and trouble. Once you’re prepared, you can ensure that each hiking trip will be safe and enjoyable.

Choose Your Hiking Location

You’ve got many options for where to hike, whether in the US or other parts of the world. For example, you may be looking for the best hiking trip in the USA. In that case, you can find many gorgeous trails in ChicagoHonolulu, and Denver.

Some serious hiking enthusiasts also travel the world exploring the best trails.

If you want to check some big ones off the list, consider chasing the summit of Machu Picchu in Peru or conquering the Andes Mountains in Ecuador. You could even decide to climb Mount Fuji if you plan a trip to Japan

Plan Your Route

Once you’ve picked your hiking destination, it’s time to map out your route. You can use free tools like Google Maps or apps like the Hiking Project and Gaia GPS. These tools provide navigation features, offline maps, and the ability to search and save routes. 

With the right tools, you can be confident that you’ve got the right skill level to tackle the trail. It also helps you plan for any obstacles along the route.

You can also plan your outdoor trip with Rei Adventures for a guided hiking experience.

Person planning a trip with a pen, notebook and map
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Know Your Limits

Once you’ve researched the route using navigational and mapping tools, it’s time to assess whether the trail suits your skill level. Avoid routes with significant elevation changes and rugged terrain if you’re a beginner. 

If you’re a seasoned hiker, identify the type of hike you’re looking for. Are you looking for a challenge with a strenuous climb, or you’re looking for a multi-day hike? Whatever your goal, you can effectively plan for the trip. 

Be aware of your expertise level, too. Never go without a hiking buddy if you’re going on an adventurous hike! On the other hand, you can partake in hiking guides or walking tours if those feel safest to you.

Give Yourself Enough Time

The primary benefit of planning your route is it allows you to plan how long the hike will take. Depending on how much time you have to spare, you can determine if the specific trail you’re considering is the best option. If it’s too long, consider a shorter hike that will take less time.

Avoid rushing through your hike since this is how accidents usually happen. Ideally, take your time with the hike and enjoy the trail’s natural beauty.

Check the Weather Forecast Before You Go

Even if you’ve picked the right season to go hiking, the daily weather conditions can be unpredictable. So before you set out for a hike, always check the weather forecast for that day.

For example, the weather forecast says it’ll rain late afternoon. In this case, you can pack your rain jacket and waterproof hiking boots so you’re ready to handle the trail conditions even if it rains.

Man standing in front of snowclad mountains and a lake
Photo by S Migaj on Pexels

Notify Non-Participants of Your Hiking Plans 

Tell your family or friends about your plans if you’re going on a hiking trip. Exploring the wilderness is always scary and unpredictable. 

Keep everyone informed that you’re going on a hiking trip so they can anticipate when you’re supposed to be back. That way, they can alert the officials in case of emergencies. You can provide them with a copy of your hiking itinerary so they know where to find you. 

Always Pack a First Aid Kit

It’s common to suffer cuts and bruises when hiking, especially when dealing with rough terrains. A first aid kit allows you to treat wounds and blisters on-site. Make sure you know how to use the supplies in your first aid kit!

How to Make Your Hiking Trip Eco-Friendly

One of the reasons to go on a hike is to discover nature and its beauty. If you’re planning a hiking trip, practicing eco-consciousness and hiking sustainably is essential. The goal is to leave nature the way you found it, if not better.

Here are some tips on how you can make your hiking trip eco-friendly...

Woman enjoying natural scenes from a hammock in a forest
Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash

5. Respect Plants and Wildlife

Always pay respect to the environment when you’re hiking. Human activity can disrupt nature, especially the natural habitat of wildlife. 

Do your best to minimize your impact when hiking by preserving the area’s conditions and leaving the plants and animals alone.

You can take a picture or two, but try your best not to touch anything! Always follow the Leave No Trace principle when hiking. 

4. Pick Up Trash

Another tip for hiking sustainably is to pick up trash on your way. It’s one of the simple steps to help improve the conditions where you’re hiking. If you pick up just one piece of trash every time you hike, along with everyone else, it enhances the environment!

3. Dispose of Your Waste Properly

If you’re not picking out the trash, make an effort to reduce litter in the environment by disposing of your waste correctly. If you can’t find a trash bin for your items, you can put them in your bag and dispose of them when you see a trash bin. 

Most trails will provide a bag, but carry an extra trash bag to avoid unnecessarily disposing of your trash on the route.

2. Put Out Any Fires

If you plan a multi-day hike, you’ll likely set a fire to cook your food or stay warm at night when you camp.

Once you leave the campsite, remember to put out the fire completely. Any tiny spark can start a fire and destroy forests and wildlife. 

Campfires are one of the leading causes of forest fires, so you have to be extra careful. 

Man kindling fire in a jungle
Photo by Pexels

1. Use Eco-Friendly Gear

There are plenty of options for eco-friendly water bottles and gear that help fuel you on your hike. You should also avoid using single-use plastic bottles, especially throwing plastic into the environment. Plastic can harm the soil and pollute water sources. 

Investing in eco-friendly water bottles, hiking gear, and food packaging can help you practice sustainable hiking. 

Build Your Hiking Itinerary With Pilot!

Once you’ve taken note of the tips above, you’re all set to start your hiking adventure! Ensure you have everything you need for the hiking trip with a reliable travel planner like Pilot.

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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Abigail Sinsona Blogs
Written by:
Abigail Sinsona
linkedin logolink to website iconInstagram logo

Abigail is a travel enthusiast who enjoys trying new foodie destinations. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and has worked as a web content writer since 2010. She enjoys writing about travel, lifestyle, beauty, hair care, and wellness.

Read more about this author
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