Although hiking can seem intimidating to beginners, hiking is an ideal way to connect with nature while getting into an exceptional cardio and strength workout. Since it requires no special skills or gear other than a good pair of shoes, the activity can be picked up by nearly everyone!  Regardless of age or skill level, beginning hikers can make the experience more enjoyable by following these five practical tips.


Choose Your Path Wisely

Your first few hikes should be courses geared toward beginning hikers. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep the round-trip journey under five miles and to avoid a hike that requires an aggressive change in elevation.


Consider Your Gear

The first thing that any hiker needs are a good pair of sturdy shoes. Although specialized hiking boots or trail runners are ideal, a good pair of athletic shoes can also suffice for most trails. Choose dry-wicking athletic clothes to avoid chafing and to ensure maximum comfort. A comfortable backpack to hold water and snacks is also essential, especially for hikes longer than a few miles.


Timing Is Everything

If the support of other people around will make your hiking experience more enjoyable, plan your hike during the late morning or early afternoon to ensure that the trail is populated. If you want solitude and peace, plan on arriving early so that you have the path to yourself.


Tell Someone

Regardless of whether you are hiking alone or with a group, it is crucial always to tell somebody not going on the hike about where you plan to start and finish and how long you expect to be gone. Should you become lost and disoriented, sharing this information with somebody else will significantly increase the chances that you will be found quickly.


Know Your Map

Take the time to familiarize yourself with your trail before you begin. A paper map stored in your backpack can come in handy if you venture off of the path and become disoriented. It is also encouraged to download a GPS map on your phone that works offline. Because many trails are in remote locations, being able to access an electronic map without a cell phone connection is essential.