Take a Hike: How to Start Hiking With Your Family

by SPARK


Hiking can be a great way to spend some quality time with your family, with nature, and with your exercise program, too. Day hikes are the best way to start hiking, and this article will show you how to get out there on that first trail.
Strap on your pack and lace up your shoes—it’s time to take a hike!
Shoes
Day hikes may sound like a walk in the park, and for some trails, you can get away with just your walking or everyday athletic shoes.
For others, you’ll want a pair of sturdy hiking or trail shoes. What to look for:
Ankle support
Arch support
Proper fit—not too small or too big
Breathability
Waterproof materials
Solid traction
Clothes
Think in layers, especially if starting in the early morning. Avoid cotton and go for light, breathable materials that wick away sweat. Wool or performance athletic socks keep your feet comfortable and dry all day.
A hat is an excellent addition to your hike and can prevent sunburns.
Packs
An ordinary, run-of-the-mill backpack off the rack of the discount store certainly works (as long as it’s comfortable). Start with what you have and work up from there. Make sure that the straps don’t rub and irritate arms and shoulders.
For a day hike, common items to keep in the pack include:
Lunch and snacks
Water
Trail map, compass, and other on-trail guides
First aid kit
Sunscreen
Lip balm with sunscreen
Bug spray
Allergy medicine, if necessary
Your phone may or may not be a good thing to bring, depending on service in your hiking area
Camera
Binoculars
Multitool
Journal and pen
Extra socks
Trails
You can find day hike trails at regional, state, and national parks, which are scattered all across the United States. You can also find trails near just about any location using an online service like trails.com or everytrail.com.
The American Hiking Society can help you find trails and hiking events in your area and sponsors National Trails Day each year with many parks, trails, and hiking groups across the country. It’s usually held in early June.
Food and water
A day on the trail is thirsty business and works up quite an appetite, too. For a day hike, you can pack a “sack lunch”—just avoid anything with mayonnaise or other foods prone to spoilage. Sure, you could cool it with a cold pack, but only if you don’t mind the extra weight.
Pack something salty, like nuts or pretzels, as a way of replenishing your body’s salts. Pack some sweet fruit or fresh veggies, too, to help add to your water intake.
Avoid sugary drinks, energy drinks, milk, or caffeinated drinks. That pretty much leaves you with the hiker’s friend, water. You’ll need at least 1 liter per person, two if the weather is hot and dry. Most adults will most likely need two, regardless of the weather. It really depends on the severity or difficulty of the trail, the length of your hike, how strenuously you are hoofing it down the trail, and the temperature of the day. It’s better to err on the side of caution and pack more than you think you might need, rather than be caught thirsty and dry on the trail.
Trail Etiquette
Enjoying the protected spaces in our beautiful country comes with responsibility. There are some common-sense rules all hikers must follow to keep the trail in good condition and be conscientious of others—and that includes the plants and animals.
Leave only footprints and take only pictures and journal notes—not rocks, flowers, or critters. Likewise, pack it in, pack it out—leave no trace that you were there.
Keep to the right. Just as on the road, when approaching another group of hikers, keep to the right side of the trail to allow everyone room to pass. In narrow areas where passing is impossible, the group closest to, or in, the narrow passage has the right-of-way.
Stay together.
Stay on the trail. Never venture off the marked trail very far. Not only can you get lost easier, but the trail is there for a reason. It was put where it is to allow us to enjoy the space without eroding it.
Obey all signs and warnings. Keep your eyes up and stay aware of any signage on the trial.
Day hiking is a rewarding, enjoyable, and healthy experience, especially with your family in tow! One word of caution: Once you hit the trail, you may discover a family activity that is highly addictive.
Go take a hike!

Hiking can be a great way to spend some quality time with your family, with nature, and with your exercise program, too. Day hikes are the best way to start hiking, and this article will show you how to get out there on that first trail.

Strap on your pack and lace up your shoes—it’s time to take a hike!

Shoes

Day hikes may sound like a walk in the park, and for some trails, you can get away with just your walking or everyday athletic shoes.

For others, you’ll want a pair of sturdy hiking or trail shoes. What to look for:

  • Ankle support
  • Arch support
  • Proper fit—not too small or too big
  • Breathability
  • Waterproof materials
  • Solid traction

Clothes

Think in layers, especially if starting in the early morning. Avoid cotton and go for light, breathable materials that wick away sweat. Wool or performance athletic socks keep your feet comfortable and dry all day.

A hat is an excellent addition to your hike and can prevent sunburns.

Packs

An ordinary, run-of-the-mill backpack off the rack of the discount store certainly works (as long as it’s comfortable). Start with what you have and work up from there. Make sure that the straps don’t rub and irritate arms and shoulders.

For a day hike, common items to keep in the pack include:

  • Lunch and snacks
  • Water
  • Trail map, compass, and other on-trail guides
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Allergy medicine, if necessary
  • Your phone may or may not be a good thing to bring, depending on service in your hiking area
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Multitool
  • Journal and pen
  • Extra socks

Trails

You can find day hike trails at regional, state, and national parks, which are scattered all across the United States. You can also find trails near just about any location using an online service like trails.com or everytrail.com.

The American Hiking Society can help you find trails and hiking events in your area and sponsors National Trails Day each year with many parks, trails, and hiking groups across the country. It’s usually held in early June.

Food and water

A day on the trail is thirsty business and works up quite an appetite, too. For a day hike, you can pack a “sack lunch”—just avoid anything with mayonnaise or other foods prone to spoilage. Sure, you could cool it with a cold pack, but only if you don’t mind the extra weight.

Pack something salty, like nuts or pretzels, as a way of replenishing your body’s salts. Pack some sweet fruit or fresh veggies, too, to help add to your water intake.

Avoid sugary drinks, energy drinks, milk, or caffeinated drinks. That pretty much leaves you with the hiker’s friend, water. You’ll need at least 1 liter per person, two if the weather is hot and dry. Most adults will most likely need two, regardless of the weather. It really depends on the severity or difficulty of the trail, the length of your hike, how strenuously you are hoofing it down the trail, and the temperature of the day. It’s better to err on the side of caution and pack more than you think you might need, rather than be caught thirsty and dry on the trail.

Trail Etiquette

Enjoying the protected spaces in our beautiful country comes with responsibility. There are some common-sense rules all hikers must follow to keep the trail in good condition and be conscientious of others—and that includes the plants and animals.

Leave only footprints and take only pictures and journal notes—not rocks, flowers, or critters. Likewise, pack it in, pack it out—leave no trace that you were there.

Keep to the right. Just as on the road, when approaching another group of hikers, keep to the right side of the trail to allow everyone room to pass. In narrow areas where passing is impossible, the group closest to, or in, the narrow passage has the right-of-way.

Stay together.

Stay on the trail. Never venture off the marked trail very far. Not only can you get lost easier, but the trail is there for a reason. It was put where it is to allow us to enjoy the space without eroding it.

Obey all signs and warnings. Keep your eyes up and stay aware of any signage on the trial.

Day hiking is a rewarding, enjoyable, and healthy experience, especially with your family in tow! One word of caution: Once you hit the trail, you may discover a family activity that is highly addictive.

Go take a hike!

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