No matter where you go, make sure to check local conditions and weather forecasts before your hike. Do not assume that weather and trail conditions will be OK or easy. Think conservatively and make sure you will be hiking in conditions comfortable for you. Summer and early fall are generally the best time to hike in the mountains because winter snow can bury most higher elevation trails from around October into early July. Temperatures and trail conditions in low-lying areas are most pleasant in spring and fall. To conserve your energy and be more comfortable, avoid the hottest time of day if you can— usually 11 am to 3 p.m. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Remember that cell phone service may not be available in back country areas.
Gather Supplies and Proper Equipment. When considering what to stuff into your day pack, let common sense be your guide and include at least these 10 essentials: map, compass, flashlight, knife, water, food, clothing, first aid kit, matches/firestarter, sunglasses. Carry your things in a pack that fits you well and watch the amount of weight in the bag to avoid back, shoulder or neck strain. Be sure to wear comfortable socks and shoes that you’ve already worn a few times to avoid any lower extremity aches, pains and blisters. Trekking poles might be helpful for hiking on rocky trails. Hiking gaiters can keep your pant legs dry and free from briars and thorns. If you’ll be in snake country, snake gaiters can help provide protection and peace of mind. Keep lower legs warmer and dry with fleece-lined snow gaiters if you're hiking in wintery conditions. Don’t forget water for your furry friend if you bring them along. Although trails might seem to be dog friendly, check local regulations to be sure, and always carry a leash.
Listen to Your Body. Stay hydrated and take breaks. Remember to progress your activity levels safely and appropriately to avoid any “weekend warrior” injuries. There’s plenty of spring/summer time to start off with easier trails and work your way up. Also take along a sense of humor and a positive attitude. That way if you hike doesn’t go as planned, you’ll keep your sanity until the situation improves. Remaining calm and level headed is important in a serious situation and being able to laugh it off later is just as important.
Hiking is an activity that can be done year round. Deciding what season and time of day is best for you to go hiking will totally be up to you, your schedule, and simply what sort of climate and terrain you would like to hike in. Once you have decided and prepared, go for it! Take advantage of all that the great outdoors has to offer. Have fun!
Get outside and hike!