Shenandoah offers some of the best hiking in the country, but with over 500 miles of trails to choose from, it can seem a little overwhelming if you don't know where to start. Here you'll find everything you need to know before your adventure begins, whether it's a quick walk through the woods or an extended backcountry camping trip.
WTA's hiking guide is the most comprehensive database of hikes in Washington, and comprises content written by local hiking experts and user submitted information. All data is vetted by WTA staff. This resource is made possible by the donations of WTA members.
BLM-managed lands offer numerous opportunities for hiking ranging from small foot paths through untrammeled wilderness to National Historic Trails with developed trail heads and interpretation centers. No matter what type of experience you are looking for, you can find it on BLM-managed lands. Dogs are welcome on most BLM-managed trails. Please check the trail website or call the local BLM field office for specific leash policies.
Please stay on established paths and properly dispose of your trash and human/dog waste. Additionally, many hiking locations are adjacent to areas of outstanding cultural heritage. If you encounter rock art, pueblo homes, or other cultural artifacts, please help us Respect and Protect this amazing heritage.
Hiking for beginners can be intimidating, but there's really not much to it. You don't need any special skills to hike; you just have to be able to walk and know where you are. It's a great way to immerse yourself in nature, get a good workout in, and recharge your batteries. This guide will give you some essential hiking for beginners tips to make your hike safe and fun.
The outdoors is experiencing a resurgence, which is great, but there are also some ugly downsides. Be a champion of the outdoors and a steward of nature. If we can all use the trails responsibly and vote for those who support the outdoors, it means more funding for parks and trails, which means more hiking options for all of us. If we leave more empty water bottles and poop bags on the trail, trails will close. You can read more about the leave no trace principles here.
There are a ton of great resources to find a trail. This website has many beginner-friendly trail guides. You can also visit sites like GaiaGPS, or AllTrails. If books are your thing, there are great hiking guidebooks out there as well.
Shoes are also important. A good pair of sneakers or trail runners is usually your best bet. If you have an old pair of hiking boots in your closet, it might be better to leave them behind if you haven't worn them in a while, they could cause blisters.
To start, print out the hiking guide and map. If it's raining, throw them in a Zip-Lock bag. Read over the guide, study the map, and have a good idea of what to expect. I like to know what my next landmark is as I hike. For example, I'll read the guide and know that say, in a mile, I make a right turn at the junction. Having this in my head keeps me aware of the next move.
I download a GPX file (basically a file that has a line on a map) load it onto my GPS units (yes, I have more than one). An easy way for a hiking beginner to do it is by downloading an app such as GaiaGPS or AllTrails. These apps have many hikes already shared and loaded by other other hikers. You can also upload a GPX file to them (which you can download for all the hikes on my site).
Here's another great tip that's easy and could save your life. At the very least, tell someone where and when you'll be hiking. It can be as simple as sending a text message with the hike webpage and note that you'll be back at a certain time. If something bad happens, this will increase your chances of being found dramatically. You can also get very detailed with this nice worksheet that the LA County Sheriff's Department put together.
Remember the story about the turtle and hare? In hiking, steady is better than quick. I often see beginners starting a hike with a really fast pace, only to blow up later. Conserve your energy, especially on a long hike. You never know what situation you'll have to use your energy on later. For example, if you get lost or take a long trail, you'll need energy to correct it. It's a matter of safety. Plan on finishing with some juice in your tank.
Likewise, if you're hiking in a group, stay with the group. I've led hiking groups where a few people just took off from mile 0. If you're hiking together, stay together. If you do decide to split up in groups, plan on intervals (such as trail junctions) where the group will reform. There's nothing worse that not knowing where some of your party are on the trail. It's a sure-fire way to not make it to your destination or turn a day hike into a night hike.
If you think you're lost, the first thing you need to do is stop. Take a look at your guide and see if anything sounds or looks familiar. If not, just backtrack until your surrounding match what's described in your guide.Getting lost hiking is something that happens to the best of us all the time, and is not a big deal. Backtracking solves the problem 99% of the time.
Then share your pictures on social media. The more folks that are outside enjoying the outdoors, the more support and awareness there is. Use popular hashtags like #hiking, #hike, #trailchat, #hikerchat, and #52hikechallenge to connect with other hikers. Make hiking a habit and see your life improve. The 52 Hike Challenge and the Six-Pack of Peaks are great places to start.
There are tons of Meetup groups that go hiking, so if you want company, give that a try. If you want to hike with your dog, my trail guides list the policy on dogs too. There are also a ton of hiking clubs that you can contact for group hikes.
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
Want a more challenging hiking experience? Check out the DeSoto Scout Trail! This historic trail starts at Comer Scout Reservation, continues through Desoto State Park, and into Little River Canyon National Preserve. It follows the beautiful West Fork of Little River and continues downstream to Highway 35. Currently, the DST can be accessed from DeSoto State Park's north border downstream to the backcountry trailhead on road 5 in the Little River Canyon Wildlife Management Area. This trail is marked with yellow blazes in DSP and changes to brown & white metal signs as pass over the border between DSP & the Little River Canyon Management Area. Historically the Trail is about 16 miles long, but due to flooding and overgrowth; only certain sections are clear. It had even been detoured onto backcountry roads in some places.
Hiking offers many health benefits, too, including help with weight management and stress reduction. Physical activity also decreases the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. If you are ready to start hiking, you are making an excellent choice for your overall well-being. Plus, getting started is easier than you might think.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to start hiking, from packing essentials to how to prepare for a day hike. With a little planning, you can enjoy a safe, comfortable and pleasurable hike.
Packing for a short hike does not require too much. After all, you will be carrying everything with you during your hike, so the lighter you pack, the better. However, you will need a few essential items if you plan on hiking all day. Here is a hiking gear list to use as your packing guide:
What you wear on your hike will have a significant impact on your experience. The wrong shoes can lead to sore feet and a short hike. Similarly, heavy pants can be uncomfortable on a hot day, but shorts do not provide the best protection against skin-irritating plants and insects. Here are some tips on what you need to wear for the most comfortable hiking experience.
Choosing the right pair of hiking shoes is vital to a successful hike. With so many different shoes to choose from, how do you know which pair to wear? Here are a few factors to consider to make your decision simple:
In general, beginners are usually safe going with a more light-weight and comfortable pair of hiking shoes. However, once they build up their skills and are ready for rockier terrain, it may be time for heavier, more supportive boots.
As a beginner hiker, you may not feel the need to drink much water. Whether your hike is easy or strenuous, it is always a good idea to stay hydrated by frequently taking small sips of water during your hike. Aim to drink at least 32 ounces before hitting the trails, and bring enough to drink about 16 ounces for every hour of hiking.
There are 5 miles of trails at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area that offer hiking through woodlots, planted prairies and onto the marsh. Trails are all of easy grade, and relatively flat but are unsurfaced. Surface material is mowed grass and gravel and is not readily accessible by wheelchair or stroller. The boardwalk is accessible by wheelchair or stroller. 041b061a72