7 Tips For Planning A Hike

Hiking can be a great way to get exercise, but an even better way to get outdoors for everyone. That includes adults and kids alike, from infant to adult. It is also a great way to learn about nature and the outdoors. For my eight year old’s 4H project this year, she is doing Outdoor Adventures Level One. Yes, 4H is more than just animals (for a later post) and her presentation was about how to plan a hike. I figured that her presentation was so great, I would write a blog post about it. So here you go, seven tips from an eight year old on how to plan a day hike.

When: The first thing to consider, is when are you planning your hike. Weather is a big factor, because you do not want it to be too hot or too cold, or have it rain or snow either. Be sure to check the forecast in advance. We like to plan our hikes for earlier in the day, plan a rest mid-day, and in the later afternoon head back home as it starts to cool down. Also, depending on the time of year, some trail and areas are closed during certain seasons.

How: How are you getting to the trail head? Are you carpooling or walking? Maybe you are going by bicycle or kayak or ATV? This is just some of the things that you need to think about. Several of the trails that we like are not accessible by car. Or maybe it’s just nicer or easier to travel to the trail head a different way. One of our favorite hiking spots is at a lake, but our favorite way to get there is by kayaking or canoeing or by boat.

Where: This is probably the most important tip. Everyone’s ability to hike is different and not all terrain is the same. If there is a trail I am not familiar with, I like to call my local forest service or Chamber of Commerce. Another great way to find what hiking trails are in your area and what level they are, is to check some of the hiking apps or websites that are out there. My favorite is AllTrails (app and website). Also, go to the library and browse the local guidebooks. It’s always best to be as informed as possible when hiking. Check out this list for some other hiking related apps.

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Who: Are you going by yourself or with others? Do you have friends that are going that are less or more experienced than you? It’s great to have other people along for safety reasons. Maybe you need to plan more if you are taking your children with you. Are your dogs going too, and if so, are dogs allowed? It is also okay to solo hike, but if you do, be prepared for an emergency, don’t take extra risks and be sure to tell someone where you are going.

Why: This is a great question to ask yourself. Maybe you are planning to hike for exercise or just to experience the outdoors. Maybe you are planning your hike so that you can take nature photos. Or, maybe there is a particular place you want to see and the only way to get there is by hiking. By asking why, you can be better prepared and know what you need and how to plan your hike.

What: What do you need to take with you? I always take with with me water and snacks. Comfortable shoes, a hat or bandanna and moisture-wicking clothing are a good idea, because you want to be comfortable. Maybe you need trekking poles or a walking stick. Some other things you might need are bug repellent, sunscreen, a camera, walkie-talkies, a map, a compass, a knife, bear spray, toilet paper, binoculars, emergency blanket and a way to start a fire. Don’t be one of those people that packs a toilet seat or steaks, just saying… And remember, lighter is better.

Cost: Because we hike often, there very minimal costs to hiking. Usually those costs involve gas a purchasing food or snacks. Most of our gear has been an one-time investment and I do not think we have purchased very much in the last few years.

Always remember to be a prepares as possible. Don’t forget to practice the Leave No Trace Principles. And have fun. Explore the outdoors more by hiking. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous hike, it can be a short one too. Most of our hikes with the kids are between two to four miles round trip. So have fun out there. And don’t forget, be outside with no limits. Love, Pauline

Comments

  • Kyndall Bennett

    2 years agoReply

    Your eight-year-old has a better sense of survival than most adults today!

    • admin

      2 years agoReply

      I agree. It’s sad unfortunately but true.

  • Barbara

    2 years agoReply

    I never thought of calling the local forest service or Chamber of Commerce for information about a hiking trail. Great tip. I learned something new today.

  • Brittany

    2 years agoReply

    I love a good hike! We took my son on one for the first time last year and he thought it was the coolest adventure! I would love to explore more places around us like this!

  • Jacklynn Watson

    2 years agoReply

    What a well informed 8 year old! This is some great info for a newbie hiker or even a more advanced one!

  • Katie Wolfe

    2 years agoReply

    Thanks for the suggestions! We are taking a family vacation {that includes Yosemite} next month and we have a couple of hikes planned. Considering it has been more than a decade since I have “hiked” at all, I definitely needed your tips.

  • Laura

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips! My sister is a hiker – she hikes the AT often and wants me to go on the Last Annual Vol State ultra with her in July. It scares the dickens out of me, but I’m considering it! Some of the items you mention are things I’ll need to pack in my backpack.

  • Lisa Manderino

    2 years agoReply

    I’m ready to go hiking, we live in a area that is abounding in good hikes!

    • Tracy

      2 years agoReply

      Great article! We dont really get to hije6where I live currently. Hopefully that changes soon.

  • Heather

    2 years agoReply

    These are great tips. I am going to share with my husband, as he likes to take our boys.

  • Joanne

    2 years agoReply

    I am not a hiker but if I decide to try it this is a great intro!

  • Malia

    2 years agoReply

    So, I might not actually take a toilet seat, but I have started taking my pstyle with me even on dayhikes. Someday I hope to kayak to a trailhead! And heck yes to the alltrails app! Great list!

    • admin

      2 years agoReply

      Have you seen those new pants from she fly???

  • Katie

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips! I will be sure to remember these if I go hiking

  • Charlene

    2 years agoReply

    Where. Where is probably my hardest one to plan. I can never decide where looks most fun, or where looks like it’ll be in our doability. Thank goodness I have a great husband who does the where for me 🙂

  • Nikki

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips – Thanks! We unfortunately don’t get to do a lot of hiking here in Florida, but make up for it when we go to visit our daughter in Arizona. I’m a list kind of person so this is perfect for me

  • Angelina

    2 years agoReply

    I love the way you structured your article (who, what, where, etc) because it’s so easy to remember! I will definitely run through these in my mind before hiking from now on.

  • Robin

    2 years agoReply

    Wow your 8 year old is very thorough! Great advice, especially for a beginner like me- I can’t recall ever going on a hike!

  • Leigh Ann

    2 years agoReply

    These are great tips. I didn’t know there were apps that could help plan a hike so thanks for sharing those! Also, I agree, the costs can be minimal as long as we are prepared. Great post as always!

  • Carolina

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips! We live in an area where there is not much hiking to do but these are great tips for when we go camping. Thx for sharing

  • Sharon

    2 years agoReply

    Great pointers to consider all the different aspects of planning for a hike! I’m NOT a good planner, so this is definitely some useful advice!

  • Lina

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips! Springtime is finally upon us and time for some outdoor fun. Hiking will be on our list to do. Thank you!

  • Suzan Ferreira

    2 years agoReply

    Nice reminders! Don’t think I will be packing a toilet seat anytime soon, LOL 🙂

  • Stacey

    2 years agoReply

    These tips are so important! The “when” is pretty important to my family. They would sooner hike in snow than the blazing sun. And my family doesn’t enjoy difficult terrain. These are good considerations.

  • Yolanda

    2 years agoReply

    These tips were great! My family would like this everyone but me. LOL I’m a hands down city girl.

    • admin

      2 years agoReply

      You should check out the first 40 Mike’s podcast then…

  • theresa

    2 years agoReply

    Excellent tips for the day hike! I am going to print this and use. We are hoping to get to boundary waters this summer for the first time

    • admin

      2 years agoReply

      Yay!! I bet you’ll have fun

  • Lisa

    2 years agoReply

    Awesome tips! Always good to plan and make sure someone else knows where you are going. Safety first.

  • Karla

    2 years agoReply

    We are surrounded by trails here in the Pacific Northwest and we are taking the 4 year olds out for the first time this year. Can’t wait!!!

  • Kim

    2 years agoReply

    Thanks for the tips! When is the big quesiton around here. We only get about 3 good months here. If we go in spring, the ground is still unstable and a rain storm could happen at any time. Summers are the best!

  • Jennifer Morrison

    2 years agoReply

    Great tips! I have not heard of the All Trails app before. I am going to share that with my kids since they hike alot.

  • Annette

    2 years agoReply

    Lots of great tips!!! We like to hike, mainly in the summers. Such a great opportunity to be out in nature. Truly blessed living in Alaska!!

  • Amber Neil

    2 years agoReply

    I love this list. We are headed to Sequoia National Park is a couple days. Tons of hikes! This will come in handy!

  • T.M. Brown

    2 years agoReply

    Love going on hikes. In fact, we were supposed to go on one this weekend, but life got in the way. We need to remedy that and plan one for next weekend. Love being outdoors.

  • jen

    2 years agoReply

    I think it is brilliant to include cost. Its so often not thought of… in addition to snacks sometimes there is a fee to a park or parking. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven up a windy road to a trailhead to find out it is in a park and parking pass must be displayed in window… such a downer if not planned for.

  • Cindy

    2 years agoReply

    Great suggestions! Good to be prepared, have a plan and then get outdoors and enjoy.

  • Amanda

    2 years agoReply

    We love to hike but it can’t be too hot or too cold. Also, I love that app! It is so awesome. We’ve been using it for years.

  • Amber Dunn

    2 years agoReply

    First of all, I love that you put your daughter’s presentation out here on your blog! Also, this is an awesome and useful list. Lastly, 4-H is wonderful at teaching life lessons and skills! (from a former 4-Her.)

  • Katie

    2 years agoReply

    My fiance and I love too take walks but we’ve never really taken a hike together. These are great tips to plan the perfect one!

  • Nicki

    2 years agoReply

    I’m hoping to do some hiking with my daughter this summer. Thanks for the tips!

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