A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d like try hiking, but I don’t know where to get started?” If you have even thought it, I think you should try it. Hiking is a wonderful way to explore a new environment, and connect both mentally and physically with your body. There are many ways to enjoy hiking, so don’t think you need to be planning a 3-day trip into the bush to partake. Hiking is about the journey, and not always the destination. You can pick the speed and difficulty that challenges you, and work to improve the strength and endurance in both your lungs and legs, enjoying a beautiful surrounding while you are at it!

My Tips for Beginner Hikers

Pick Your Trail

  • To find a trail:
    • Go to an information centre of the area you want to hike in. Information centres are a wealth of knowledge and often have maps available.
    • Use alltrails.com. It has a great grading system for hikes and you can read reviews of each trail.
    • Pick a trail ahead of time. This helps you know if the trail is a loop or if you will need to back-track, allowing you to better prepare for your hike.
  • Pick a hiking distance that is shorter than a walk you can do on a flat paved surface.
  • Give yourself 1 hour to walk 3 km, and add 1 hour for every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain.
  • Remember you don’t have to finish the trail you pick. If you only have an hour to hike, or you know you can walk 60 minutes comfortably, try walking 30 minutes into a trail and then turning around and heading back.
  • Reflect on your trail after you’ve completed it. Was it too hard, too easy? How was pace: too fast, too slow? This will help guide your choices for the next one.


Have a Hiking Buddy

  • When you start hiking, go with a buddy to build your confidence through the comfort of being together. It is fun to go solo once you have increased your confidence as it is very relaxing—almost like a form of mediation.


Let Someone Know

  • Always tell someone where you will be, what hike you are doing, and when you expect to be done. There are emergency devices that you can buy that allow for emergency assistance by satellite as a backup should you need assistance.


Dress Appropriately

  • Wear comfortable clothing that is quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and easy to layer. Your outer layer should be a light jacket that can block out rain and wind. Avoid cotton, as it locks in moister making it harder to regulate temperature and may cause chafing.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good grip. There are more options than ever for footwear, and it really depends on what kind of hiking you want to be doing. If you’re just starting, pick easy trails that you can wear runners for and get an idea if you want more of a trail shoe with good grip or a boot with ankle support. If you do buy new shoes, take time to break them in by walking around the block, running errands, or doing yard work.
  • Try different socks too (no cotton): again, go for something that is moisture-wicking.


Check, Check and Re-check the Weather

  • Leading up to your hike, and again a few hours before, check the weather. This will give you valuable information on how to dress and what to pack. If the weather is forecasted to be awful, it will give you the chance to change plans instead of getting surprised on the trail.


Pack the Right Gear

  • As a beginner hiker, you are likely only going to be hiking for a couple of hours, so you don’t need to bring much besides a water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, extra clothing and a map. However, the list may change as you become more advanced.
    • Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray
    • Extra food/water
    • Map, compass
    • Matches/lighter/flint
    • Extra clothing (gloves, neck warmer, sweater, rain jacket, socks)
    • Flashlight
    • Fist aid kit (especially for blisters)
    • Garbage bag


Always remember to leave no trace behind, be proactive and pick up what others may have forgotten to help take care our beautiful trails. HAPPY HIKING!

By Kelsey Hagen – Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

Revive Wellness Inc. is a team of individuals passionate about your health and well-being in Edmonton, Alberta. Live your life to the fullest and book an initial appointment today.

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