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October 10, 2017

Getting Healthy This Fall: Hiking for Beginners

Fall is a beautiful time of year to explore the great outdoors! Not only are the views more colorful than ever, but getting out in the crisp air will invigorate you for the new season.

Hiking doesn't require any fancy gear, but you should be prepared when you are heading out on the trails. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots (already broken in), sturdy socks, and bring a backpack for supplies.

What to bring on a day hike:

Sunscreen and sunglasses.
Even the cloudiest of days can damage your skin, so be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and pack it along with you for reapplication. Bring a hat and sunglasses for extra protection.

Plenty of water.
It is always better to have too much water than not enough, so even if it's a short hike we recommend bringing along more than just one bottle. If you need a little more encouragement to drink up, we can help with that!

Bring some fuel to munch on along the way. Just make sure the snacks are healthy and nutritious for maximum energy!

Extra clothing & layers.
The weather can quickly change when you're outside on a trail. Bring a rain shell and warm layers, just in case. It may even be beneficial to bring an extra pair of dry socks to leave in the car for when you return.

An excellent safety item even though you may want to use the hike as an opportunity to unplug. Make sure it's fully charged and packed along with you in case of an emergency, even if you have it turned off.

First-aid kit.
Even a basic first-aid kit comes in handy in case of blisters or scrapes.

If going on a more intense hike its a good idea to bring additional supplies such as a printed trail map, a compass, a fire starter, and a whistle. If the trails you're following are well marked, the list above is a great starting off point.

There are also some basic safety precautions you should take when preparing for your hike. Its better to be over-prepared than under, and avoiding making certain plans ahead of time can not only turn a pleasurable hike into a frustrating one, but also make a safe hike become a dangerous one.

Safety precautions when preparing for a hike:

Check the placard posted at trail heads or online.
Often these postings will make you aware of any closures due to flooding, fires, mudslides, or general trail damage. Do not ignore these warnings!

Sign in.
If there is a place to sign your name and the date in a register, do so. If not, let a loved one know where you're planning on going. Even if you're just planning on a short hike, taking this moment to register that you're using the trail is reassuring in case the worst happens.

Bring more rather than less.
Not sure if you'll need that second bottle of water? Bring it anyway. Extra snacks in the car? Pack them along. When in doubt, bring more.

Check the weather.
Be prepared for changing weather and bring clothing accordingly. Even though the report might say there's only a 20% chance of rain, it is better to have the jacket and not need it rather than the other way around.

Overall, using common sense is the best way to have an enjoyable hiking experience. Be respectful of the trail rules, always Leave No Trace (pack your trash out with you), and be considerate of your fellow hikers.

Happy fall!


[Credit: LeFave, Samantha. How to Dominate a Day Hike (Even if Youve Never Stepped Foot on a Trail). Greatist.]