Before heading out, check to see that you have the following:
- Water and food. No matter how far you're hiking, always take a bottle of water and drink from it often. Snacks such as dried fruit are a necessity on long hikes, particularly when children come along. If you plan a picnic, include a plastic bag to transfer trash to a garbage bin after your hike.
- Outerwear. No matter how clear the day is, always bring a light rain jacket. It will keep you comfortable, whatever weather you encounter.
- Sun and insect protection. Make sure you've applied sunscreen and insect repellent before taking to the path. Bring along sunglasses and a hat for further protection.
- Hiking boots. While you can hike in good walking shoes, boots support the ankles better and offer a heavier, more protective sole. And be sure to break in your boots before the first hike. This helps prevent blisters and allows your body time to adjust to the footwear's extra weight.
- Family and friends. Bringing others on a hike is a surefire way to make it a rewarding experience.
- Hiking with children. Try incorporating games into the day. Play 'I Spy' or look for different types of trees.
- Keep it exciting. Seek out trails with a destination such as a waterfall or historic landmark. You can also bring binoculars and try to identify birds.