Hiking with your family is a great chance to get outdoors, breathe some fresh air, and get active. It’s easy to get started. Just look for a trail in a national park near you! For your first day hike choose a safe, well-marked trail that doesn’t have too many steep climbs. Otherwise, you’ll get tired too early and won’t make it as far as you want to go.
First, you’ll need a good pair of shoes and thick socks designed for this type of activity. You can start with some sturdy sneakers with thick bottoms. When you begin to take on more difficult trails, try a pair of hiking boots, and make sure they fit! Make sure they fit! Also, get a backpack or fanny pack to carry all of your hiking supplies. Dress in layers and bring along a waterproof jacket with a hood in case you get caught in the rain. Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses because the higher you hike, the more dangerous the sun’s rays become.
To keep hiking fun, you always need to be prepared for situations that may happen while you’re out, like finding the trail if you get lost or stuck in bad weather.
You’ll also need to bring water, snacks, waterproof matches and an Army-style knife. A flashlight and extra batteries will help you find your way if you end up out after dark. Don’t forget a small first aid kit. You can fit all these items in a backpack.
Prep – Get in shape before you head out on your hike. Try walking around your neighborhood with your pack loaded with five pounds more gear than you’ll actually carry on your hike. If that goes well, plan a short hike to test your abilities on the trail.
Buddies – Take a friend and an adult along on your hike. That way you can look out for each other and you’ll have people to talk to! Also, be sure to let someone who’s not going know where you’ll be hiking and what time you’ll be back.
H2O – Carry lots of water even if you are only planning a short hike. For warm-weather hikes, bring six to eight quarts of water per day. In the cold weather or higher elevations, you can be safe with half that amount. Whenever you are near water, make sure you wet yourself down. Dampen a bandana and wipe your face, neck, and arms or wrap it around your head while you hike.
Blisters and more – To prevent blisters, try spraying your feet with an anti-perspirant before heading out. Bring extra pairs of socks that you can change into if your feet get wet or sweaty — if they aren’t made of cotton, they’ll keep your feet drier. Once you’re on the trail, stop as soon as you feel a “hot spot” on your feet and apply special type of bandage called “moleskin” to the sore area. Also, try using a hiking stick to keep some pressure off of your legs and knees.
Weather watcher – When it’s hot, pick trails that are shaded and run near streams. If you need to hike uphill in the sun, first soak yourself down to stay cool. You can also try wearing a wet bandana around your head or neck. Also, try to stay out of cotton clothes. Keep yourself out of bad weather by checking forecasts before you hike and watching the skies once you’re out on the trail. During lightening storms, head downhill and away from the direction of the storm, and then squat down and keep your head low.
Keep it yummy – To stay healthy on your hike, you’ll need to know how to keep your food and water safe. Remember the four C’s: contain, clean, cook, and chill.
The Appalachian Trail starts in northern Georgia and continues through South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and ends in Maine.