When it comes to hobbies and activities, it’s difficult to find one better than hiking. What could possibly be better than taking a walk through the woods, completely away from technology, work, and stress? Maybe you’ll pass through grassy meadows to see deer drinking from a stream, or perhaps you’ll climb a tall mountain and sit at the top, soaking in a view that covers miles of beautiful scenery. The best part is, you only need three things: Some gear, a location, and some time.
One of the best things about hiking is how little it costs. Besides the gas to drive your car to your starting point, it’s practically free. You probably already own most or all of the hiking gear you need. Here’s what you’ll want to have handy:
Hiking Shoes or Boots
You’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes or boots to go on a hike. For most hikes, a good pair of athletic shoes will be fine. They’ll be light enough for you to walk at your own pace down a trail and bound over rocks and streams. If you’re tackling very rough terrain, or plan on carrying a heavy pack, then you might consider wearing a good pair of hiking boots. There are several kinds of hiking boots available, all of which can be found at your local outdoor store.
Water and Food
Make sure you carry enough water for the hike, as well as some extra in case you need it. Water is the most critical supply you can pack, so make sure you have plenty, and/or a water filter to refill your bottles on the trail. If you’re going to be gone for more than a couple hours, you might want to pack a few snack bars or trail mix.
First Aid Kit
A small first aid kit is a good thing to have in case you have an emergency on your hike. You can find plenty of hiking first aid checklists online or talk to someone with experience. For starters, be sure to have your medications, bandages, sun block, and anything else you might need.
Finding your hiking destination can be the best part of planning your hike. There will be plenty of books about your area at your local outdoor store or bookstore. You can also do a simple search online to find local hikes. If you haven’t done this before, you’ll probably hear the term “day hike” a lot. This just refers to hike that you can do in one day (without having to camp out in the wilderness overnight - although this is fun too!). Based on where you live, there are probably a few different types of hikes available to you:
Mountain hikes normally take you up to a high elevation so that you can take in beautiful panoramas of the world below you. These hikes are normally the most strenuous due to their terrain, but don’t let that discourage you. The views are always worth the effort. There may also be fairly easy hikes available that start on top of the mountain. It’s amazing how the world looks from only a thousand feet up.
Waterfalls and Lakes
Another popular destination for hikes is to local waterfalls and lakes. There are many scenic hikes along the shores of calm lakes that are simply soothing to your soul. Or you can hike for a mile (or a few) and be rewarded with the amazing view of a mountain waterfall. Can you think of a better way to spend a hot summer day than in the calm pool at the base of a 200-foot waterfall? Nope - I can’t either!
Even if there are no panoramic views or water features, we can all use a few hours out in the wilderness every now and then. Walking along a trail through the woods or a sunny meadow is an incredibly calming experience. No stress, no work, no worries. For a little while, it’s just you (and maybe your hiking partners) and nature.
Wwe can’t all go quit our jobs and set off for a 5-month hike down the Appalachian Trail. Luckily, there are plenty of day hikes within a few hours drive from all of us. Whether you go visit a waterfall, a mountain, the woods, or just go for a walk along a nature trail, all you need is a sunny afternoon!