Hey friend, if you have found yourself here, you must be wondering, Is Hiking Fun?
My friends think I am crazy. I spend an excessive amount of time hiking and exploring the wilderness.
If you haven’t spent much time hiking, you may think it is all sweat and tears, but hiking is one of my favorite pastimes. I love it!
There is something about spending time in the wilderness that is both exciting and rejuvenating.
Give hiking a try, and it may be the most fun you will ever have.
If you aren’t convinced yet, keep reading to find out why we love hiking so much.
“Hiking is Fun. For short hikes, you do not need any special gear. You can choose the length of the hike and decide how strenuous you want the hike to be. You could meander along a river or choose a more challenging trek up a mountainside. There is a hiking trail for every skill level and comfort level. Grab some hiking shoes and do some hiking today.”
Why Should you go Hiking? – Benefits of Hiking.
Hiking is not all hard work! Hiking has become a favorite activity across the world. As a low-risk Covid activity, it has been especially prevalent this year.
Hiking allows us to explore new places, see new things, and alleviate stress.
Last year, I had the opportunity to summit Huron Peak in Colorado, USA. It was one of the best experiences I have had hiking. I encountered no more than five other people during my entire trip up and down the mountain.
The hike up to Huron meanders through grassland valleys and refreshing pine forests. As you approach the ascent, the forest quickly fades into the most spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. Hiking offers some scenic views you just can’t get anywhere else.
If you are from the US, maybe even Canada, you may remember a family trip to the Grand Canyon. The view from the top is impressive, but you have to strap on a pair of hiking boots and descend the canyon to truly understand the grandeur of that mighty canyon. In other words, you will never get to experience a place until you have hiked it fully.
Earlier this year, I hiked to Aloha Lake in the Desolation Peaks Wilderness in California (near Lake Tahoe). Lake Aloha offers some of the most spectacular blue water, sharply contrasted by rugged granite and few toothpick-like trees that have just barely squeezed through the hard rock. Aloha lake can only be accessed on foot.
It’s a moderate hike with some elevation gain, but the view from the top makes it worth your while.
Did you know hiking helps to relieve stress and anxiety?
Scientists have discovered that hiking and spending time in the wilderness in general help to calm the nerves and settle the mind. I believe the combination of natural beauty and isolation from the busyness of the city creates a therapeutic atmosphere in the wilderness.
You can even find therapeutic programs centered around hiking, fishing, and camping. Some hiking destinations, especially in wilderness areas, offer solitude that you cannot find in town.
Need to know what to bring on your trip?
Check our list at the bottom!
Where can I hike? – Best Places to Hike.
The good news is there are numerous accessible and affordable places to hike. Many trails are available to explore in the US, Canada, and abroad.
Conservation and recreation is a growing interest in governmental planning and legislation. Nearly every state or province has federal and/or state land set aside for conservation and recreation.
National Forest Service and BLM Land
The National Forest Service offers some of the best hiking and camping in the United States. National Forest Land is generally free to use, except for some particular recreation areas. Many of the best ski resorts are operated under special permits on National Forest Land. Aloha Lakes, mentioned above, is located on Forest Service Land.
Pro Tip: If you head out to Aloha Lake, shorten your trip by taking the water taxi at Echo Chalet for the first three miles of the hike.
National Park Service & Parks (Parcs) Canada
Another federal option for hiking and recreation is the National Park Service and Parks (Parcs) Canada. These feature famous parks Like Yosemite, Waterton Lakes, Yellowstone, and Banff.
Many of these parks require a modest fee to enter, but they often offer the most dramatic and rewarding landscapes.
Park Pass: The National Park Service and Parks Canada both offer park passes. These passes generally cost around $50-100 for the year and will grant you access to federal parks the entire year. Many parks charge a weekly fee in the US, so the park pass can quickly pay for itself. On my last trip to Yellowstone, a weekly pass was around $30.
If you are planning a trip to multiple parks, a park pass is a necessity. Buy it before you go to avoid the more extended cash/card lanes at entry.
Books & Guides for National Parks
Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 62 Parks (Travel Guide)
Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors
National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada, 2nd Edition
State and Provincial Parks
Another excellent option for hiking is the state park system (provincial parks in Canada). State parks are often free or highly affordable to visit.
State Parks in California and Colorado generally cost less than $10 to enter. In Tennessee, all state parks are free to enter. Provincial parks in Ontario typically cost less than CAD $10 to enter. So you see, state parks are among the most affordable options for hiking.
Books About State Parks
National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States, 5th Edition
A Wilderness Adventure: Canoeing, Camping and Fishing in Quetico Provincial Park
Ontario Provincial Parks Trail Guide
Local Parks, Open Spaces, and Preserves
Last but not least, there are numerous local options and preserves for hiking. Local parks are often free, but some charge a small fee. Others are free only for locals but charge a small fee for out-of-city visitors.
Preserves and Open Spaces are distinct types of public (or private) land. They can be operated by the government, a nonprofit trust, or the collaboration of several agencies. Generally speaking, these areas will be free but may ask for a donation to enter. For nonprofits, donations can be the only source of income.
What do I need to hike? – Best Hiking Gear
A good pair of hiking shoes is a good starting point to get ready for your hike. You have numerous options when choosing a hiking shoe, but ultimately you want to select a shoe that fits well and is appropriate for the trail or trails you will be using.
If you are traveling on a relatively flat and smooth trail, a pair of tennis shoes can be ok but is generally not recommended.
Best Hiking Boots for Wide & Regular Feet – Men and Women.
Hiking shoes come in men, women, and youth sizes. You can also choose between a low-cut, mid-cut, or high-cut boot. In general, the higher the boot goes, the more support it will provide. However, the larger the boot, the heavier the boot will be. If you think you may hike in wet conditions, grab a water-resistant boot.
Check Out our Favorite Boots on Amazon.
If you only plan on doing some light hiking, a lower-cut boot will likely be best. If you plan to traverse any terrain that contains jagged rocks or moderate streams of water, choose a mid-cut boot. Generally, a high-cut boot would be reserved for extreme or tactical conditions.
Trekking Pole or Walking Stick
A trekking pole or walking stick can be an excellent addition to your hiking gear. They are instrumental on rough and uneven terrain. Using a walking stick on long hikes can help keep a good posture and avoid unnecessary falls.
A walking stick may not be needed if you go on a short hike with moderate inclines and few large rocks. In either case, there are some affordable options for trekking poles. If you can afford to add a pair to your gear, you will be prepared for whatever the trail throws your way. Also, you can purchase singular poles, but they generally work better as a pair in unison.
Check out our favorite trekking poles on Amazon.
Backpack – Daypack Vs. Backpack
When you head out on your hike, be sure to grab something to carry all of your gear. I have several sizes of backpacks, depending on the trip.
If I am only hiking in a populated area and plan to be back by nightfall, I will only take a daypack. My daypack will contain plenty of water, emergency food, safety equipment, an emergency blanket, a knife, some rope, and an emergency light. It may seem like a lot, but the more prepared you are the better.
Check Out Our Favorite Daypacks
If I am hiking in a remote area, I choose a larger backpack in the 30-40 quart range. I will include the same items from my daypack but add more water, more food, and a more extensive safety kit (more on that below).
Check Out Our Favorite Mid-size backpacks.
If you plan to hike and camp somewhere along the trail a 40-75 quart bag may suit you better. You will need to plan to carry all of your hiking gear plus tents or bivys and sleeping gear.
Check Out Our Favorite Large backpacks
Is Hiking Hard?
Hiking can be challenging. Some trails are straight uphill for long periods of time; others are flat and steady.
It is best to choose a trail that fits your cardiovascular and muscular health. In other words, if you are out of shape like me, start out slow and work your way up.
Hiking does not need to be difficult unless you want it to be.
What safety gear will I need for the hike?
First Aid Kit
The longer the hike, the more gear you will need. I always carry a First Aid Kit as a Certified Wilderness First Responder. My first aid kit will contain the typical products: essential medicine, bandages, tape, and a rescue mask.
However, I like to add c-splints, ace bandages, Israeli War Bandages, and Tourniquets.
Satellite Messenger/Avalanche Beacon
If you are going somewhere remote, without cell reception, a satellite messenger or avalanche beacon can be helpful if you need to call for help. However, these devices were cost-prohibitive in the past. Today, the prices for satellite messengers are much more reasonable.
Check out our Favorite Satellite Messenger here
Map, Compass, Navigation
Be sure to grab some sort of navigation device if you plan to hike in a remote area.
Check out our Favorite GPS here.
Let someone know
While not necessarily a piece of equipment, the top safety measure you need is to let someone know when hiking in remote areas before you go. Let someone you trust know where you are going and when you plan to get back.
If you are not back by a specific time, they should contact the relevant authorities. I usually find the appropriate park ranger station and sheriff’s department phone numbers.
If you are going somewhere with Grizzly or Polar bears, grab some bear spray. Generally, you cannot purchase this online. You will rarely need to use bear spray, but it is effective and doesn’t permanently harm the bear.
Hiking can be a lot of fun. Be sure to grab the right gear and prepare for your trip. You can start with a short hiking trail near you today.
Find a trail get started today.