As a beginner, when you decide to start your new hiking hobby, getting started can sometimes seem almost overwhelming. In most places in North America there are an enormous number of great hiking and walking trails, so even having an idea of where you want to go can be a challenging. You should always start by choosing the right hike for your skill level.
Go Hiking On The Right Trails
When you go hiking your first few times, you will definitely want to stick to well travelled trails in urban areas. You should use these hikes as an opportunity to assess your fitness, and to get the amazing benefit of getting outdoors and enjoying your city. Once you have done this a few times, you can start venturing onto hiking trails in national or local parks. Be sure to pick easy trails that are regularly used- it will be a long time before you are ready to venture out into the backwoods.
Wear Appropriate Hiking Gear
Choosing the proper gear for hiking is essential. Having a pair of the best hiking boots will make your treks far more enjoyable. Having improper shoes can lead to very unpleasant experiences, and possibly serious pain to your feet and legs. Clothing is just as important- it is often necessary to wear long pants. Shorts are not idea for hiking unless you are in a dry open area with no grass. Shirts, pants, and socks should be optimized fabric for athletic use. All athletic and running stores will carry clothing like this.
Always be sure to have water available when you go hiking. I personally recommend carrying a small hydration backpack rather than a large hiking bag filled with bottled water (it is better for the environment too!). If you are going to be on treks longer than 5 or 6 hours, you should bring some sort of snack with you too. It is also extremely important to carry a small hiking first aid kit, and a map of the local area showing your hiking trail.
Be Safe When you Go Hiking
Keep safety in mind at all times and be prepared for the environment you choose to hike in. Never hike alone- always bring at least one friend with you. You may want to join a local outdoor club to find like-minded hikers. You can also try some guided hikes to start you off. Always make sure to tell somebody where and when you are going, and when you intend to be back. That way if anything unforeseen happens, they can get you help more promptly.
Hiking is one of the most enjoyable physical activities there is, but when you do decide to go, make sure you are prepared. Have fun, and always make sure to keep safety in mind. Happy trails!