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July 9, 2010

An AllCampgrounds Quick and Dirty Guide to Hiking

Filed under: Camping,Nature — Tags: — Simos @ 2:45 am
Evidence of beachfront hiking!

Evidence of beachfront hiking!
Photo by: Timo Balk (Stock Exchange)

Good to see you again at AllCampgrounds, your premier guide to camping on the web.

You know, in theory nothing could be simpler than hiking: at heart, it’s just walking, set in someplace fun and interesting to be.

Just about all campsites have some kind of hiking opportunity, whether it’s a full-fledged nature trail, a nearby mountain, or a landscaped pathway around the camp grounds.

But as simple as it seems, if you’ve never hiked before or you’re new to camping the best hiking trails, there are a few things you should know.

And, naturally, AllCampgrounds is here to give you the inside scoop.

Hiking: What to Know Before You Go

Pack light, but smart: No matter where you are, tent camping or RV, day or night, winter or summer, one of the major factors in how well you hike is how well you pack. Extra water is a must, but don’t weigh yourself down; you could sap your endurance, slow your progress, and throw off your plans. Bring healthy, energy-packed snacks like trail mix – that’s exactly why it’s called that – and don’t forget first aid supplies just in case. Stop to hydrate whenever you feel even a little thirsty; don’t wait!

Invest in the item that makes the most difference: If you have the wrong footwear, you may not even make it down the trail. Hiking boots are made to cushion your feet and protect your body on uneven trails; sneakers aren’t. If you’re shopping for hiking shoes for the first time, make sure they fit correctly, and “wear them around” before you use them in the outdoors: not just for a few minutes, but several hours, to understand if there are any points of friction. Soon, you’ll know what works for you – and there’s nothing worse than getting a blister on the trail. If you feel discomfort, turn back.

Pick the right trail and know it well: Choosing the right trail is a combination of your experience, endurance, and the natural setting you want to hike in. Obviously, trails in the foothills and mountains are more difficult than trails in the woods, which are more difficult than trails in fields and open areas. There are many “starter” trails maintained in established national parks. The terrain that you choose is going to make a big difference in how long you can stay out; you should always bring a map, compass, and a flashlight in case a hike takes longer than you expect. Consult with weather reports and ranger stations, and be sure you’re “in the know” about any trail challenges.

It pays to be prepared: Keeping point #1 in mind, there are several things you might consider bringing along in case of an emergency. I definitely recommend a first aid kit for unexpected falls or sprains, especially when working on a harder trail or visiting one for the first time. Other helpful items you might consider are matches, a whistle, a knife, extra clothing, and blankets. With practice, it’s possible to “be ready for anything” (within reason!) without overburdening yourself.

In an upcoming AllCampgrounds post, we’ll share more hot tips on hiking enjoyment and safety, and visit some of the wildest, most popular, and most stunning scenic hiking trails around the United States. Until then, campers!

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