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How to Start Hiking

Campgrounds have great trailheads, so get on the trail and go hiking.

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Campers love hiking. It's an adventurous sport that is a great for exercise and outdoor recreation and most campgrounds have trailheads nearby. Although hiking presents challenges compared to basic walking, anyone can get started by walking on trails or unpaved paths in parks and wilderness areas. The wildlife, flora and fauna, and natural environment combine to make hiking worth the trek.

Buy a pair of hiking boots.

You will want a hiking boot that is sturdier than a standard walking shoe to help stabilize the variable terrain found on hiking trails. If you don't like wearing boots, look at trail running shoes. Choosing the right footwear is important. Wear your new shoes around the house a few days before hiking. Breaking shoes in helps to avoid blisters.

Look for a park (or campground) with a system of trails.

State Parks and National Forests typically have a good variety of trails or unpaved walking paths. It is best to hike with a partner. If you don’t know anyone who hikes, check with local hiking clubs. Or sometimes campgrounds have naturalist lead hikes; check with your campground host or ranger to see if group hikes are arranged. Often trails are in remote areas and it is best to have someone along for safety.

Wear lightweight and comfortable clothing, a hat and sunglasses.

Getting dressed for hiking is just like any other aerobic exercise, but you are heading into the great outdoors. The weather and the environment can change at anytime. Make sure you are dressed comfortably for the environment and prepared for a change in weather.

Take a backpack with essential items.

Prepare a small backpack for the day in order to carry hiking essentials. Always bring more water than needed, extra sunscreen, and an extra layer of warm and waterproof clothing. A small first-aid kit is always a good idea in case of emergency and if you're a fisherman, pack a fishing pole or fly rod if you'll be hiking up a creek.

Start with a low mileage trail and easy terrain.

Make sure to buy a map of the area and familiarize yourself with the trails and geography before heading out. If possible talk with a park ranger and ask for recommendations of easy hike. Hiking is more strenuous than walking; so choose a route a short route to start. Make sure to read trail signs and pay attention to junctions.

Review trails and emergency planning.

Most days on the trail are pleasant, enjoyable and rewarding, but accidents occasionally happen. It is always a good idea to take a raincoat and check the forecast before you go. Be aware of risks and prepared for a variety of situations. If you encounter an emergency situation, be sure to remain calm and seek help.

Enjoy the hike!

Take a camera and stop along the way to enjoy nature, the landscapes and the great outdoors.

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