Hiking for Beginners: 21 Tips To Get Started in 2023

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According to the American Hiking Society, hiking is absolutely trending. This is nothing to be astonished about, as hiking has benefits for your fitness level, improves mental wellbeing, and assists in social life. Statistics show that in 2019 49.7 million Americans participated in at least one hike. The peak of this trend is expected to reach its peak in 2060!

This article aims to help you plan your next hike to make it an unforgettable experience and avoid disappointments. That’s why it is necessary to have an in-depth knowledge of hiking planning and preparation along with pro tips to make this trip memorable and enjoyable, even if you are a beginner and going for a hike for the first time.

This article shares all the essential tips that you need to know to begin your first hike.

Hiking for Beginners

What are the 21 basic skills in hiking?

Plan a Beginners-Friendly Hike

As a beginner, choose beginner-friendly hikes according to your physical ability. Each situation is individual, but if you start with overwhelming hikes, you become frustrated and quit. Fun, passion and personal well-being are essential for hiking beginners.

Once you build your stamina on simple and easy hikes, you can go for multi-day hiking, trekking, backpacking, summiting, mountaineering, etc. Below is a list of types of hikes to choose from as a beginner hiker;

Day Hikes

Day hikes are best suited for beginners as they start and finish in one day. Usually, hike trails are easy in day hikes and do not require rigorous struggles. Another advantage is that you often don’t need to worry about how to set up a camp, cook on a campfire, and so on.

Start with day hikes, and then if you like it continue with multiple day hikes with overnights in hotels, followed by overnights on campgrounds for example.


Walks are short and easy hikes. If you are a beginner, you can go for walks outdoor to build your capacity and stamina. World health organization claims that 30 minutes of walking in the nature per day have significant health benefits, such as lower risks of overweight, stress, diabetes, and other potentially life-threatening disease.


Loops are hikes that start and end at the same place. Experienced hikers do loop hikes, but beginners can also try loops with many easy trails.

Hiking Trail

Find a Perfect Hiking Trail with Minimum Difficulty

After choosing a beginner-friendly type of hike, pick a perfect hike trail for you with minimum difficulty. This choice depends on several factors like how much time you have for the walk, hiking distance, difficulty level of hike, hike location, elevation gain, fitness level, logistics, weather, time of year, etc.

As you know what factors to consider when choosing a hiking trail, it is time to research to look for a perfect track. Remember always choose a route according to your current fitness level and skills and not according to where you think you should be.

You can find a perfect route by following guidebooks and websites. There are other ways, like word of mouth from your social circle, online communities like Facebook groups, hiking, and outdoor blogs. Hiking documentaries and talking to locals is a great way to know trail conditions, difficulty level, etc.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, pick a beginner-friendly hike so that you can easily complete it.

Get familiar with Navigation

Old school navigation skills are among one of the most critical skills to have during the hike. There are several reasons why you should be proficient in navigation using a map and compass during trekking and hiking. Some of them are the mobile device’s battery life can be concise in cold conditions, GPS might not be as sharp as you think, you can conserve your mobile devices’ battery for emergencies, etc.

For sure, technical tools are a great help, but having some traditional navigations skills is never wrong as a backup. Having good navigation skills during hiking and trekking can prove lifesaving and can save you from getting lost as well. But the good news is, that it is not that difficult.

If you are not entirely remote areas, hiking trails are usually well-marked, and you can always ask fellow hikers if you are unsure. I highly recommend reading this article on how to read a map, as well.

Water Supply

Food and Water Supply

Hikes can drain your energy very quickly. That’s why you must have enough food and water supply to recharge yourself. Carry lightweight, easily stored food and contain a good amount of calories and carbohydrates. Usually, when hiking, 200-300 calories are needed per hour.

On the other hand, carrying too much water can weigh you down, and too little could be dangerous because you can get dehydrated during the hike. Typically 1 liter of water is needed every 2 hours.

Still, it can vary depending on other factors like your age, sweat rate, the intensity of the hiking trail, weather, etc. so, make sure that you carry enough water, and you find refill spots on the way so that you can treat and filter to make it drinkable.

Overcome Hiking Fear

Do you know why most people don’t start a hike in the first place? Because they have some sort of fear regarding hiking in their minds like fear of wildlife, fear of getting lost, fear of being physically unfit, etc.

These are some of the baseless fears that stop you from getting into hikes. However, positive thinking and a positive attitude can solve the issue and other tips. Hike with a friend, group, or experienced professional or pick moderately trafficked trails to overcome this fear.

Have Hiking Essentials

Have Hiking Essentials

Here is a list of hiking essentials you must carry with yourself, whether you are a beginner hiker or an experienced one;

  • We will talk about a good hiking backpack to hold all of your hiking essentials next.
  • Suitable hiking layers (base layers, mid-layers, and outer layers) and proper footwear for comfort and safety.
  • To get sun protection, always bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Map and other navigation tools like GPS, compass, etc.
  • Enough water to protect you from dehydration and sickness.
  • Enough energizing food and snacks to keep your energy full.
  • Lightweight emergency first aid kit for emergencies like blisters, minor cuts, etc.
  • A fully charged flashlight or headlamp, it could get dark during the hike.
  • A pair of good, lightweight trekking poles to help you in challenging situations.

Find Your Tail Buddy

If you are going on a trail for the first time, find your trail buddies and hike with them. This ensures safety and frees you from the fear of getting lost. With a hiking buddy, you can also split planning and preparation responsibilities. You can find hiking buddies by asking your friend or family, joining online communities on social media, or you can join local hike groups to find your trail buddies.

But if you plan to go solo, always tell someone where are you going and when will you return? You can also leave a note to your local hiking agency to ensure your safety.

Check Weather Forecast

Check Weather Forecast

Checking a weather forecast before going on a hike should be your top priority because you can better prepare yourself according to the estimates. Don’t rely on national forecasts. Always get local weather forecasts as they are more accurate than national forecasts.

If your hiking trail is popular, you can mainly find a forecast for the course. These specific forecasts let you know your route more accurately.

Choose Your Perfect Hiking Backpack

A comfortable hiking backpack is one of the most valuable assets on your hiking tours. Facts like rain resistance, carrying comfort, and organizational features are just some of the most critical aspects.

What Type of Tent is Best for Backpacking

Wear Hiking-Friendly Clothing

Choosing clothes for hiking depends on several factors like where you are going and what time of year it is, temperature and weather forecast, etc. Usually, water-resistant jackets, pants, trousers are what I recommend as the basics. They protect from UV sun rays and provide water resistance and insulation against wind and cold weather.

These pants must be stretchy to allow easy movement along with proper ventilation. Lightweight hiking clothes dry quickly but I recommend bringing an extra shirt to change when you sweat heavily.

A wicking base layer that wicks moisture is recommended that absorbs sweat and provides insulation against wind and cold weather. A hat, sun cream, and sunglasses are other essential items and proper clothing.

Choose Comfortable Hiking Shoes

Good hiking shoes are another must-have gear, along with other hiking equipment. Choose your hiking shoes according to the weather conditions.

They must also be comfortable to wear to save you from blisters. Choose hiking shoes that have a firm grip so that you can have your ankles safe and sound during the hike, along with water resistance features.

Organize Trekking Poles

Organize Trekking Poles

Lightweight and adjustable trekking poles are a must-have option as they have a lot of advantages during hiking. For example, they take a lot of stress off your joints by absorbing some of the shocks during hiking, give your arms something to engage with, maintain your balance by acting as another set of limbs, help you keep a sound and sustainable pace, can help in testing ice strength and water depth during the hike, etc.

Pre Hiking Exercises

Before hiking, make sure you are physically fit to avoid any mishaps. To be physically fit, do some starches and exercises, whether be at home or the gym. First, be active in your daily life to build stamina for trails. Secondly, work on your lung capacity to not go out of breath during your hikes. So, do exercises and workouts that build you for tracks.

Leave at Right Time

If you are well prepared for your hike, leave early as possible. Leaving early saves you some time as well as you encounter fewer people and more nature.

Additionally, the temperatures are often more convenient for hiking in the morning depending on the season. But if you are afraid of going alone, then either leave with your hiking buddies or leave at a popular time where you can get along with other hikers.

Hiking is Not a Race

You must have heard about the story of the hare and the tortoise. The same case is with hiking and trekking. If you maintain a steady pace and keep going, you can win and complete your hike.

Unfortunately, beginner hikers often make the mistake of going at fast pace from the beginning of the walk and soon realizing that they are out of breath. So, keep in mind that hiking is not a race but a game of steady pace.

Encountering Wildlife

Watch Your Steps

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, watching your steps while on a hiking trail is always advised. You can either twist your ankle or slip on a rock with the wrong steps. In addition, you may step on poisonous wildlife that can hurt you in turn. So, always be careful on the trail.

Encountering Wildlife

During hikes, try as much as possible to minimize wildlife encounters. You can do certain things to reduce the meeting, like avoiding hiking at dawn or dusk, studying the wildlife of areas you are going to hike, and staying on the trails. If you camp, make sure your center is extra clean and does not invite wildlife, make noises to warn wildlife, stick to popular trails, watch wildlife’s tracks and droppings, etc.

But upon unexpected wildlife encounters, don’t try to feed and pet them, don’t get too close or provoke them, back off slowly, remain calm, always walk and don’t run, etc. These are some of the safety tips regarding wildlife encounters during hikes.

Trail Ethics and Etiquettes

There are certain basic trail ethics and etiquettes to follow to make your and others’ hiking experience memorable and enjoyable.

  • Use headphones if you love music because not all people come to enjoy music; some come to enjoy peace and serenity.
  • Maintain mutual respect with other hikers.
  • Pee and poop in the right place at the right time.
  • Give people way with a smiling face as your pace could not match the other hikers.
  • Stay on the hiking trails, and don’t go for shortcuts as you can jeopardize your and others’ safety.
  • Whatever trash you bring in with you, bring it out with you. Don’t litter.
  • Animals do not leave trash in the forest and mountains, but humans do. So behave like animals.

Follow Leave No Trace Principles

To enjoy your hikes and make fellow hikers’ lives enjoyable and easy, we all must follow the Principles of Leave No Trace. According to these principles;

  • To prevent damage to natural resources and wildlife and make your hike memorable, enjoyable, and safe, always plan your hike and prepare for it.
  • To protect natural resources from trampling, hike only on marked trails and don’t try to create new ones.
  • To preserve nature, dump your waste correctly and away from any water resource. Use wash water away from water resources with a small amount of eco-friendly soap.
  • Leave natural objects as they are. Don’t pick flowers, collect shells, cut branches, etc.
  • Minimize the campfire impacts by keeping your fire small, fire from already dead trees, and fire in already existing fire rings, etc.
  • Respect wildlife by not disturbing them and maintaining a safe distance from them.
  • Know hiking etiquette to be considerate of other hikers.

Below please find the leave no trace principles in visual form.

Post Hiking Necessities

When you are done with your hike, certain things are to do to ensure a positive post-hike experience. First, keep stretching your body as it could get stiff due to a strenuous hike. Keep your body hydrated and clean your hiking gear.

Share Your Experience

When you get back from the hike, meet your friends and family members and share your experience with them and let them know that you are back. You can also let your social circle know by posting your hike photos on social media.