Know the blunders of hikers

Careless hikers are more likely to tumble off a cliff, poke a diamondback rattler, and otherwise get themselves in trouble’s way. And frankly, our nation needs more outdoorsy people, not less.

So Backpacker asked me, the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, to answer all of your camping, hiking, cooking, training, you-name-it questions. I’m no gonzo, Everest-scaling, bear-wrestling hardman, but I’ve hiked enough miles to recognize which mistakes first-timers tend to make. Let’s count ’em off:

  1. Wearing denim like Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street

News flash: Denim is cotton, so wearing jeans (and jean jackets for that matter, Mr. Depp) is a poor choice for any hike, especially in rainy or cold weather. That’s because cotton retains moisture instead of wicking it away like wool and polyester fabrics. Once cotton gets wet, it takes a long time to dry out; that moisture on your skin siphons away body heat through convection, leaving you shivering in your boots, and more susceptible to hypothermia (hence the aphorism “cotton kills”). Jeans are the worst of all cottons because they can ice up in below-freezing weather. I learned this lesson on my first hike with the Appalachian Mountain Club in New Hampshire, and I’ve remained cotton-free ever since, except on short summer hikes where getting chilled isn’t a danger. So the next time you see hikers wearing blue jeans, remind them that the 1980s are over and that Johnny Depp now prefers tri-corner hats and eye-liner.

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  1. Buying your tent or sleeping bag at Wal-Mart

Sam Walton was an Eagle Scout, but he didn’t become America’s richest man selling top-quality camping and hiking gear at discount prices. Yes, Wal-Mart does sell an Ozark Trails sleeping bag for $10, but I wouldn’t use it on a real Ozark Trail. It’s fine to buy your beef jerky, trail mix ingredients, and propane canisters at big-box retail stores, but trust specialty outdoor stores and reliable brands for the gear that matters most, like footwear, raingear, sleeping bags, and tents.

  1. Hiking a trail with a road map

Not all dotted lines are made equal. Thus, the map that helps you find the trailhead parking lot won’t help you navigate a trail. Hyper-detailed USGS topographical maps (called “quads”) are the gold standard for backcountry navigation, but they are often overkill for popular and well-marked trails. Much easier to acquire and use are designated trail maps that include topographical features like rivers, ridges, and peaks, as well as key info like hiking mileage and trailheads. Book stores and visitor centers often stock maps and guidebooks for local trails, while National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated series is great for U.S. recreation hot spots from Acadia to Zion. And don’t forget’s new Print & Go weekend planners, which include gear checklists, driving directions, and waypoints for dozens of popular hike

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  1. Packing a first aid kit as if you’re landing on Omaha Beach

Morphine? Check. Gauze bandages? Check. M1 rifle? What? Most novice hikers either forget to bring a first-aid kit, or pack an entire pharmacy. Neither represents the right approach. You should bring a first-aid kit appropriate for the length of your trip, the size of your group (along with any individual medical needs), and your medical knowledge. The last one is important: If you don’t know how to use a first-aid item—like a suture kit—you probably shouldn’t be carrying it. Packing obscure supplies you’ll probably never use in place of additional bandages and painkillers doesn’t make sense. Basic first-aid essentials for most outings should be: adhesive bandages (various sizes), medical or duct tape, moleskin, sterile gauze, ibuprofen, Benadryl, antibiotic ointment, and alcohol wipes.

  1. Being overhead saying, “Lightning can’t strike me—I’m not carrying anything metallic.”

If you think lightning only strikes metal objects, ruminate on this ancient Chinese proverb: “The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the scythe.” Then substitute “knuckleheaded hiker” for the tall grass and “zapped by 100 million volts of electric juice” for the scythe, and you’ve got Professor Hike’s updated proverb on why you absolutely need to descend from exposed peaks and ridgelines when an afternoon thunderstorm is brewing. Lightning is attracted to tall, isolated objects, which could be anything from a clueless hiker standing on a summit to a lone tree. And even if you’re not touching that lone tree, the lightning might strike the ground right next to it, or the ground current may surge up you. Secondary strikes can be just as deadly. What’s more, lightning can strike targets up to 10 miles from the center of a storm. Trust me on that; I’ve got a few hair-raising tales from New Mexico to prove it. Instead, get into a forest or the low point of rolling hills, a ravine, or a gully.

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  1. Going ultra-light without ultra-experience

A regular backpacker going ultra-light is like a vegetarian becoming a vegan—it takes time to dial down a new, safe system. Definitions vary, but ultra-light hiking generally means having a base pack weight (your gear minus food and water) of 10 to 12 pounds. The advantage, of course, is that you have less weight to schlep, but your safety net also shrinks: You have fewer backup provisions (food, fuel, warm clothes) if things go wrong, like you fall in a river or rodents steal your food.
The more backcountry experience you have, the more safely you can go ultra-light simply because you’re better equipped with skills to, one, avoid such mishaps and, two, improvise if they do occur. However, even expert mountaineers can pay the ultralight price. Think of Joe Simpson of Touching the Void fame: During his and his partner’s ascent of Siula Grande in the Andes, bad weather prolonged their climb, causing them to run out of fuel for melting snow for water—something that later would contribute to Simpson’s fall into a crevasse.
That’s why ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal and not a first-time objective. Reducing pack weight is a skill you hone after much experimentation. So how much weight should you carry on a typical day-hike? Is it 10, 15, or 20 pounds? It all depends on the circumstances. If you’re hiking a dozen miles alone on a mellow trail, you can carry a sub-10 pound load of water, snacks, rain gear, headlamp, and the always essential map, compass or GPS. But if the trail is unfamiliar, tricky, or remote, and you’re hiking in a larger group, you might want to add a small first-aid kit, warm clothing, and extra water and food that pushes your weight north of 15 pounds. That’s because carrying more gear—along with the skills to use it—is your best strategy to reduce risk.

  1. Wearing boots fresh from the box

I’m not a fan of hiking proverbs, but there’s one that I consider gospel: “If your feet are happy, the rest of you is happy.” I wised up to that fact on a 95-mile trek (Scotland’s bonny West Highland Way) that I began with stiff leather boots I hadn’t worn in eons. Those boots shredded my feet on the first day out, and I spent the next week limping up and down Scotland’s green hills. Trust me, neither you nor your feet will by happy if you begin a big trip with untested shoes or boots. Starting weeks ahead of time, you need to break them in while mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or running errands around town. Trail shoes, which perform more like athletic footwear, conform quickly to your feet, while taller, rigid boots require more break-in time. Wear recently purchased shoes indoors at first, since most outdoor stores have return policies that exclude those worn outside. If your feet hurt or develop hotspots or blisters, apply bandages, experiment with different socks, and keep at it. Remember also that most people’s feet swell a half size or more by the afternoon.

  1. Starting too late in the day

Showing up an hour late for a 7 p.m. dinner reservation is bad manners. But starting at 2 p.m. a hike that you intended to begin at 10 a.m. is bad news. Unless you want your 15 minutes of fame on the CNN ticker (“Clueless Hikers Survive Freezing Nights in Wilderness”), it’s best to start on time, or shorten your route. I learned this lesson the hard way on a 10-mile hike in New Hampshire that began four hours late, included a few frustrating wrong turns, and ended at the trailhead parking lot just before midnight.

Besides an early start, how fast you move matters, too. An athletic adult hikes at 3 mph, but that rate drops to 2 or even 1 mph when you factor in rough terrain, elevation changes, and rest breaks. Groups always move slower than individuals, and a snail on crutches will beat families with toddlers. If you find yourself starting later than anticipated, check your map for shorter routes or a cut-off trail to reach your destination before sunset. If you find yourself falling behind, avoid the lure of cross-country shortcuts, and instead keep moving, watch the time, and be prepared to finish using headlamps, which you packed for just such an occasion.

  1. Ignoring the weather forecast

A little rain isn’t a reason to cancel a hike. That’s why we have Gore-Tex boots and waterproof jackets, right? But even the best equipment can’t provide 100 percent protection from the soggy remnants of a hurricane or an Arctic-born blizzard. So before every trip, I review the website, which uses a Google Maps interface to generate five-day forecasts for precisely where I’ll be hiking. These results are far more accurate than the traditional forecasts for the nearest town, which could be miles away and thousands of feet lower than a trail. Plus, you can read the “Forecast Discussion,” which is like eavesdropping on local meteorologists during their coffee breaks.
Thanks to a NOAA forecast, I knew ahead of time that a powerful thunderstorm would crash a recent backpacking trip in the middle of the night. So I minimized the danger by picking a sheltered campsite, pitching my tent away from lone trees and dangling branches, and tightening the guy-lines for my rain-fly. Sure enough, I awoke at 1 a.m. to witness a ferocious—but mostly harmless—atmospheric cannonade of light and sound. And by morning, as the forecast predicted, the skies were blasted clear.

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  1. Skimping on Leave No Trace

Litterbug? Not you. I bet you’re a committed recycler. Maybe you even wash and re-use zipper-lock bags. But on a camping trip, where do you dump the soapy water after washing dishes? Do you really strain out the food bits and scatter the “gray” water at least 200 feet from any lake, stream, or campsite? And do you use biodegradable soap? That’s what Leave No Trace (LNT) (—seven principles promoting ethical, low-impact outdoor recreation—advises you to do. It’s easy to practice LNT’s major rules: Carry out trash, keep away from wildlife, and minimize the impact of campfires. The finer points, however—like packing out toilet paper and building small fires—are harder to follow. But since Bambi doesn’t crap up your bedroom, you should extend the same courtesy. So here are Prof. Hike’s six tips to make the tough tenets of LNT more achievable:

• 200 feet equals 40 adult strides.
• Use the rubber tip of a spatula to scrap leftover food from plates and bowls into your mouth.
• Reduce odors by placing silica gel desiccates (those moisture-absorbing packets found in shoe boxes and other packages) into your trash bag, then double-bagging it.
• Use dryer lint as natural fire tinder.
• Carry versatile sanitary wipes instead of flimsy toilet paper.
• Stop washing dishes, as veteran hiker Johnny Molloy advocates in this June 2007 Backpacker article.

OK, there you have it: my top 10 list of n00b blunders. Let us know what you would add to the list!

Is it possible to hike with baby?

I’ve never thought of myself as a huge hiker, but after Lulu was born it became one of my favorite things to do. Probably because some physical exercise was quite welcomed after being cooped up inside with a baby for days on end. Plus, Lulu – and most babies it seems – loves being outside. Babies are happy little cooing nature lovers. Here are my top tips for hiking with a baby.

Invest in a Good Quality Baby Carrier

I love my Ergo 360 — the baby can be worn on the front facing in or out, or carried on your back.

You’re not going to want to just hold your baby in your arms while you trek up the side of a hill or mountain, or try to push a baby across rocky terrain in a stroller. Instead, you’ll want to use a baby carrier that can be strapped to your body.

I like the Ergobaby 360 since it can be worn with the baby snuggled into either your front or your back. (Or side, but that’s probably not conducive to hiking well.) It also comes with an infant insert so you can use it before your baby has head support. Even with infant inserts, most carrier brands recommend you wait until the baby is eight pounds to use.

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Once the baby has good head support (typically after six months old), then a hiking backpack that props the baby up high so they can look around is golden for keeping baby happy on hikes.

Lulu in particular hates being strapped on the back in the Ergo and I don’t blame her — she can’t see as well compared to if she’s strapped to my front facing out.

Mom, I can barely see you! Or the pretty trees!

The heavier she gets, the harder it is to hike with her on the front, though. Tom and I are planning to add this Osprey carrier to our collection next time we get one of our 20% off member coupons from REI. It props the baby up so they can look around and also has a cover for rain or sunshine.

I’ve written before about the wonders of the Moby wrap, but for hiking you probably are going to want something more sturdy and that isn’t 7 feet long. That thing’s going to get very dirty if you have to keep rewrapping it, not to mention annoying.

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Bring a Partner and a few Vital Baby Supplies

A hiking partner who knows the baby well can also take turns carrying the little one; a baby strapped to you is like having added weights on you — a good workout, but a tough one!

Hiking with a partner is smart even without a baby in tow, but becomes even more important when a little one is depending on you. If something were to happen while on the trail, the other person can run for help while you stay with the baby.

Also, your hiking partner can carry either the baby or the backpack with the baby supplies during the hike. You don’t want to bring the entire contents of your diaper bag, but a few vitals are important to have: a couple diapers, wipes, pacifier if your baby uses one, plus a change of clothes in case of a diaper blowout if the climate isn’t right for your baby to go au naturale for the rest of the hike. Don’t forget to stick in plenty of water, too! Particularly if you’re nursing, you’re going to get thirsty fast.

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Pick Hiking Trails Wisely with a Baby

Yes, I kept my distance from that edge.

Choose hiking trails that aren’t too steep or treacherous. This might seem like common sense, but it’s easy to think that because you’ll be wearing the baby and not have her strapped into a stroller, you’ll be able to easily navigate more difficult trails. While not having a stroller will give you more flexibility, it’s important to remember that the baby-wearing is going to throw off your center of gravity and you’re not going to be as firm on your feet as you’re used to. Stay safe and pick trails that are mostly flat or have a gentle slope without any need for scrambling.

Another thing to look for when picking a hiking trail is how shaded it is. It is generally not recommended that babies wear sunscreen before six months of age (though speak with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about using it earlier or later) and walking on trails shaded by trees will help you not have to worry the baby’s fragile skin is being covered enough.

Dress the Baby Appropriately

This trail in the Olympic Mountains was heavily wooded and it was a warm day, meaning we didn’t need to worry as much about what Lulu was wearing. This is not always the case.

Sometimes you’re not going to be able to stay out of the sun, so you’ll want to make sure your little bundle of joy is covered up. This can get tricky if you’re hiking somewhere hot. When we were in Kauai when Lulu was five months old I had such trouble finding light weight clothing that had long sleeves and pant legs at the traditional baby stores.
Instead, try REI’s baby and toddler section to find activewear that is breathable and offers sun protection. It is sometimes hard to find the small sizes, but a 12-month article of clothing may work depending on the size of your baby as you may want the long sleeves to cover the hands to provide protection and you can roll up pant legs. Also, Aiden and Anais recently came out with a line of muslin clothing that looks perfect for hot summer days, but you’ll want to check it’s not so porous that it doesn’t provide good sun protection.

A big, floppy hat for the baby is also a must on a hike in sunshine, for protection of the skin and eyes. Start having the baby wear the hat around your house or on walks prior to any big hikes so he or she gets used to it. Some babies hate hats and will try to pull them off or fuss while wearing them and you don’t want to be troubleshooting the hat situation when you should be enjoying nature.

If you’re not sure how cold it’s going to get, layering is wise, too. Just remember the baby will be getting some of your body heat so may not need to be as bundled up as you think.

Nursing on the Trail

A nursing tank like this one that easily snaps and unsnaps is ideal for fast access breastfeeding while hiking.
I always nurse Lulu in the car before starting a hike to make sure her belly is full and her thirst is quenched.

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Even on shorter hikes, though, there’s no predicting when a baby will suddenly become hungry, especially if you nurse on demand. I have totally whipped out the boob on the side of hiking trails to console a crying Lulu. Wear an active shirt with long tails if you want to be able to easily cover up without having to lug a nursing cover around.
I love this Lucy cardigan that has long tails which can be buttoned up to the side for a light layer while hiking and covering up while nursing.
Otherwise, just remind yourself that people would probably rather catch a glimpse of a nursing mother during their hike than hear hunger wails instead of babbling brooks and chirping birds. Or don’t remind yourself of anything. It’s your baby and your right to nurse him or her whenever and wherever you’d like. I haven’t hiked with bottles before, so if anyone has tips for that – please leave them in the comments below!

Try a Quick Hike with Your Baby Close to Home

If you’re still feeling daunted by the thought of going out into the wilderness with your baby away from all your creature comforts and all that baby stuff you feel you need, or aren’t sure how your baby will handle a hike, just try a quick hike close to home. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, you can try out the carrier, see how your baby does on the walk, and start to get comfortable with the idea of hiking with a baby. You may even find you love it and that it’s time to get out there and explore with your little one!

How to know hiking is good for your health?

I’m a hiker—“born to hike,” as my husband likes to joke. It does my heart and soul good to strap on a pack and head out on a trail, especially when I’m alone and can let my mind wander where it will.
The experience of hiking is unique, research suggests, conveying benefits beyond what you receive from typical exercise. Not only does it oxygenate your heart, it helps keep your mind sharper, your body calmer, your creativity more alive, and your relationships happier. And, if you’re like me and happen to live in a place where nearby woods allow for hiking among trees, all the better: Evidence suggests that being around trees may provide extra benefits, perhaps because of certain organic compounds that trees exude that boost our mood and our overall psychological well-being.

Hiking in nature is so powerful for our health and well-being that some doctors have begun prescribing it as an adjunct to other treatments for disease. As one group of researchers puts it, “The synergistic effect of physical activity and time spent in nature make hiking an ideal activity to increase overall health and wellness.”

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Here is what science is saying about the benefits of hiking.

  1. Hiking keeps your mind sharper than many other forms of exercise
    Being a professional writer, I sometimes have trouble justifying taking the time to hike in the middle of my workday. But research suggests that hiking doesn’t just feel good, it might also keep my brain in top shape.

All exercise is good for us. Whether it’s using an elliptical trainer, riding a stationary bike, or walking on a treadmill, getting your heart rate up and working out your lungs keep you feeling younger and stronger. Exercise also helps your brain thanks to the extra oxygenation that comes with it.

But hiking involves something many other forms of exercise don’t: trails. That means it requires navigating in a world that’s not totally predictable. Slippery dirt, overhanging branches and hidden obstacles, trail markers, and wild animals crossing your path—all of the things you might encounter on a trail require micro- and macro-adjustments to your route, which is good for your brain.

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As Daniel Levitin explains in his book, Successful Aging, hiking exercises the part of your brain designed to help you navigate through life—for example, the restrosplenial cortex and the hippocampus, which aids in memory, too—which is why hiking not only helps your heart, but helps your mind stay sharp, as well.

  1. Hiking helps to keep you calm and happy
    Exercise in general can be a great stress-buster. But what sets hiking apart from other forms of exercise is that it’s done outdoors in a natural setting. While other physical activities also rely on nature—for example, river rafting or backpacking—those often require more time and commitment than a simple hike and are less accessible to many people. Hiking can happen almost anywhere—from a city park or public garden to a mountain trail—and give you that dose of nature you need to stay happy.
    Research is quite clear on the benefits of being in nature while exercising. Studies have found that, compared to walking in a cityscape or along a road, walking in green spaces helps us recover from “attention overload”—the mental fatigue that comes from living and working in a world where computers and cell phones are a constant distraction.

Being in nature is calming, too, and studies have found that people who spend time walking in nature are less anxious and suffer less rumination (thinking about the same worries or regrets over and over again), which should help protect against depression.

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While it’s not totally clear why nature provides these psychological perks, researcher Craig Anderson and others have found that being in nature encourages feelings of awe—a state of wonder coupled with a sense of being small in the presence of something bigger than yourself. Awe is a powerful emotion that has many benefits, including improving your mood and making you feel more generous.

  1. Hiking helps your relationships

It may be obvious that hiking is good for our physical and emotional health. But there is mounting evidence that it helps our relationships, too.

One reason is that many of us hike with other people, and exercising together can produce special feelings of closeness—and a sense of safety. I’m sure when a friend of mine recently fell on a trail and severely fractured her ankle, she was glad to have company to help her hobble down the mountain for help. But, even in less dire circumstances, having a friend along can be a lovely way to connect with another person in a setting free of other distractions.

In one study, mothers and daughters who spent 20 minutes walking in an arboretum (versus a shopping mall) not only showed better attention during a cognitive task, but also had improved interactions with each other, according to independent raters. Specifically, they demonstrated more connection and positive emotions and fewer negative emotions after walking in the natural setting. Other research suggests that exposure to nature can help our relationships by making us more empathic, helpful, and generous.

What about hiking alone? Personally, I’ve often found that hiking alone helps me in my relationships, likely for all of the reasons above—it helps me reduce my stress, refreshes my depleted attention, and produces awe. And, when I’m feeling good, those effects spill over into my interactions with others once I return from the hike.

For anyone who spends a lot of time caregiving for other people, it can be rejuvenating to let go of that responsibility for a bit and take to a trail. After all, it can’t help but refresh you when you give yourself a break, making you more emotionally available to others afterward.

  1. Hiking can increase our creativity

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that walks in nature let my mind wander freely in creative directions. In fact, I’ve written many of my songs while hiking on a trail, lyric ideas bubbling up from some unconscious place when I’m not deliberately thinking.

Though we often read about philosophers or artists who’ve found creative inspiration in natural spaces, science is just beginning to document the connections between being in nature and creativity. David Strayer and his colleagues tested young adults in an Outward Bound program before and after they spent three days hiking in wilderness, and the participants showed increased creative thinking and problem-solving after the experience. Other studies have found connections between creative thinking and nature experiences, too, although they weren’t focused on hiking specifically.

Some scholars believe that these benefits for creativity have to do with how natural settings allow our attention to soften and our minds to wander in ways that can help us connect disparate ideas that are swirling around in our minds. Others suggest that the spaciousness and unpredictability in natural scenery somehow enhance creativity. Whatever the case, if being in nature increases creativity—which is tied to well-being—it might behoove creative types to spend a little more time on a trail.

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  1. Hiking helps cement a positive relationship with the natural world
    Besides being good for us, hiking may also help the world around us. After all, if we have the stamina to walk places and cover longer distances, we could use cars less and reduce our carbon footprint.
    Beyond that, hiking benefits our planet indirectly, because it increases our connection to nature. Developing a positive relationship with the natural world can help us to care about its fate, making us more committed to conservation efforts. At least one study has suggested that when we have a personal connection to nature, we are more likely to want to protect it. That means experiences in nature—like hiking—can be mutually beneficial, helping people and the earth.

This all goes to show that hiking may be one of the best ways to move your body, and I, personally, have recommitted to hiking regularly in the new year. Instead of spending all day every day in front of a computer, I’m taking time to walk outside—even if it’s just for 15 minutes. And I’m definitely noticing improvements in my mood, creativity, and relationships, as well as a growing sense of spiritual connection to the natural world.

So, grab a water bottle, a backpack, and, if you want, a friend, and head out on the trail. You won’t be sorry you did.

Which hiking trails are the best to hike?

From a multiday trek tracing the routes of a Japanese poet, to a classic clamber in the Argentinian Lake District, here are 23 of the best hiking trails in the world.

Walking boots and waterproof coats at the ready.

  1. Pennine Way, United Kingdom

Pennine Way — the first official long distance trail to be established in England.

Stretching 268 miles from the Derbyshire Peak District to the Scottish Borders, the Pennine Way is the United Kingdom’s most famous long distance path.

The entire walk takes around three weeks, passing over wild moorland east of Manchester and through the picture postcard Yorkshire Dales, before crossing the ancient border of Hadrian’s Wall and on toward Scotland.

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One for outdoor fanatics, camping enthusiasts and anyone who can handle the vagaries of great British weather.

  1. Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The Camino de Santiago route was highly traveled during the Middle Ages.

Rather than following a single path, the Camino, also known as the Way of St. James, is actually a series of different pilgrimage routes, all ending at the shrine of the apostle St. James in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.

The most popular modern route follows a line across northern Spain from the French Pyrenees.

While some choose to stay at monasteries along the way, plenty of operators offer hotel stays and luggage transfers.

Pura Aventura has an 11-day trip that passes through Galicia, staying in boutique inns, with bags sent ahead each day.

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5 best trips for solo travelers

  1. Appalachian Trail, United States
    The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine.

Extending for 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail is billed as the longest hiking-only footpath in the world.

It runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, passing through some of the most remote country in the United States.
That means it’s an undertaking, either for those with endless vacation allowance, or walkers looking to do a small chunk of a classic route.
Well-marked paths and campsites mean it can be tackled alone. But those keen on comfort can use companies like Go Shenandoah, which offers pre-booked lodge accommodation and packed lunches in the spectacular Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, home to some of the best scenery on the trail.

  1. The Basho Wayfarer, Japan

This trail follows the route taken by haiku poet Matsuo Basho 1689.
Japan boasts numerous ancient trails, connecting temples and cities. This self-guided trip follows a route taken by the poet Matsuo Basho over 300 years ago.

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The six-day trek starts in Sendai and works its way through the northern Tohoku region, passing through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi and along the ancient Dewa Kaido path, with its beech and cherry forests, before heading into the mountains of Natagiri-toge and finishing at the temple of Yamadera.

Tour operator Walk Japan offers accommodation in traditional ryokan, with access to onsen baths to soothe aching bones after a long day’s hiking.

  1. Refugio Frey and Cerro Catedral, Argentina
    The one-day Refugio Frey hike is one of the most scenic in Bariloche.

The area around Bariloche in Argentina’s Lake District is home to several stunning walks.

But for those with limited time, it’s hard to beat the one-day trek to Refugio Frey and Cerro Catedral.

A bus to Villa Catedral drops at the start of a wide, well-marked path, which winds its way into the Andes, passing through woods before emerging above the tree line into a world of spectacular, soaring peaks. Intrepid visitors can stay at Refugio Frey, either in the hut or camping in its grounds.

  1. Mount Toubkal, Morocco

A hike to North Africa’s highest peak is a challenging, but rewarding task.

North Africa’s highest peak at 4,167 meters (13,671 feet), a hike to the top of Mount Toubkal isn’t for the faint-hearted.

The path upwards rises from the village of Imlil, passing over a dry river bed before rising sharply through the shrine at Sidi Chamharouch and on towards a large mountain hut.

After overnighting here, hikers strap on crampons and set off up the snowfield to the summit, where the Atlas Mountains open out and the views are relentless.

A local guide and muleteers for carrying luggage are a must, with tour operator Much Better Adventures able to arrange both, along with transfers to and from Marrakech.

  1. Great Wall of China, Jinshanling section
    Walking the Great Wall at the tourist hotspot of Badaling can be a stressful experience, with crowds and hawkers making it almost unbearable.

Jinshanling, situated 87 miles northeast of Beijing, offers the perfect chance to explore a steep, winding and relatively unscathed section of this true Chinese icon.

The route through to the wall at Simatai is closed, but the back and forth trip along this section makes for a strenuous workout, with truly amazing views. Hotels in Beijing can arrange tours and transfers.

  1. Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong

The Dragon’s Back trail is among the best hikes in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong may be known for its towering skyscrapers and narrow streets, but the mainland and islands are dotted with myriad hiking trails, the most famous of which is the Dragon’s Back.

Easily reached by bus from downtown Hong Kong, the path begins in a shady tree tunnel on the Shek O Road, before scaling Shek O Peak, with vistas over white sandy beaches, lush hills and tropical islands. The route ends at the beach at Big Wave Bay, its warm waters perfect for a post-hike dip.

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  1. The Dingle Way, Ireland

Ireland’s Dingle Way trail can be completed in around eight days.

Stretching 111 miles, The Dingle Way is a circular path that offers the best way to get under the skin of wild County Kerry in Ireland’s south west.

Starting in the town of Tralee, the clockwise path follows narrow roads, known as boreens, taking in the wide sweep of sand at Inch Strand, passing along the clifftops outside Dingle town and heading around the edge of Mount Brandon, the highest peak on the Dingle Peninsula.

Ireland Ways arranges accommodation along the route, which can be tackled over as many as ten days.

  1. Tergo La Trek, Bhutan

Bhutan’s remoteness only adds to the mystique of its walking trails.

The relative inaccessibility of Bhutan and need for tourist passes means its trails are unspoiled and ripe for exploration. Tergo-La Trek, in the Haa Valley, is one of the country’s lesser known routes.

This guided trek from Bhutanese tour operator Blue Poppy rises from 3,500 meters to 4,135 meters, passing through peaceful forest paths and up wild mountain tracks, with views of Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world.

Yak herders’ camps and distant villages add to the sense of being in another world.

  1. Tahoe Rim Trail, United States

The Tahoe Rim Trail spans two US states, California and Nevada.
A 165-mile loop around the Tahoe Rim Basin, this iconic trail was established in 1981 and is regarded as one of the finest hikes in the United States.

Passing through six counties and four national forests, in land that straddles California and Nevada, the Tahoe Rim Trail is the best way to explore the Sierra Nevada and Carson ranges.

Intrepid travelers can pack a tent and get back to nature on an 11-day jaunt, best undertaken between July and September.

  1. Armenia and the Silk Road

Armenia’s beautiful natural landscapes are best explored on foot.

Easily overlooked, Armenia has some of the best walking trails in Europe.

The 11-day Armenia and the Silk Road trip takes in some of its finest routes, connecting the UNESCO protected monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, passing over limestone peaks and through verdant forests, with the opportunity to hike in the wild Geghama Mountains and climb to the top of Aragats, the country’s tallest mountain.

  1. Lechweg Trail, Austria and Germany

The Lechweg Trail follows the Lechweg river from Lechall in Fussen.

Starting in the Bavarian town of Fussen, this nine-day route follows the Lechweg river to its source in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg.

Passing the royal castles of a King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Germany as well as crystal clear lakes, the trail heads through the Tiroler Lech National Park, a protected area with lush meadows, turquoise water and ibex at every turn.

Although the trail is self-guided, Walks Worldwide can arrange accommodation and meals, meaning visitors only need worry about putting on their boots and backpacks each morning.

  1. Indus Valley, Himalaya, India

While a Himalayan trek is always going to be magical, this remote three-day jaunt in the Indus Valley takes some beating.

The hike, which is an extension of luxury operator Shakti Himalaya’s seven-day itinerary to the region, leaves the village of Moncarmo and heads to Matho Phu and Shang Phu.

Phu translates as summer pastures, meaning this lush ground makes for pleasant walking while staring at the surrounding peaks and glaciers.

The trip includes stops at local tea houses, with dome tents pitched each evening for a comfortable night’s sleep.

  1. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
    Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest boasts many of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
    Sanctuary Retreats Gorilla Forest Camp

Wildlife walks don’t come more fascinating than a trip into Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where you can get up close and personal with the area’s mountain gorilla population.

As part of a wider itinerary, Yellow Zebra Safaris offers walks in which visitors are taken on hikes across the forest to meet habituated gorillas used to the presence of humans.

Groups are typically limited to eight people.

Safe and comfortable basic hiking tips

Do you want to try Hiking but don’t know where to start?
This guide can help you prepare for your first hike wherever you are headed, ensuring you are safe and comfortable in 11 basic tips.
The great thing about hiking is you get to pick your speed and difficulty for the perfect amount of challenge that suits you. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

  1. Decide how long you have to hike

As this is a beginner’s guide to hiking, we’re not looking to hike the Appalachian Trail – but rather trails that can be done in less than a day, that won’t require you to pack a tent, or bring extra change of clothes. Pick a hike based on how much time you have – do you have the entire Sunday? Or do you just have a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon?

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  1. Decide if you’ll be hiking solo or with a friend/group

Solo hikes may have its advantages (mobile meditation anyone?), however it is also more dangerous should anything happen while you’re out on the trail. It would be recommended buddying up with a friend or your significant other particularly for your first hike – it’s a great bonding opportunity!

  1. Determine your starting level

If you are a complete newbie, sending yourself out on an eight hour hike through the unmapped wilderness is highly not recommended. Start slow, and pick places you’re familiar with that will allow you to stop when necessary and get back to your car or home quickly.

  1. Pick your hiking location

If you don’t have a place in mind, hop on Google to find the closest national park, or ask your friends/co-workers if they know of any good spots. Do some research as you’d be surprised how many places are out there ready for you to explore!

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  1. What to Wear

• Base layer: Sweaty cotton takes forever to dry, so choose a “technical” fabric: moisture-wicking polyester or wool. Wool? Yep, lightweight wool wears comfortably in warm weather on the trail, and it retains few odours.
• Pants or shorts: Convertible pants are popular. Their lower-leg portions can zip off if you want more air and sun.
• Footwear: Full- or mid-cut boots are traditional backpacking choices, though some folks prefer light hikers or even trail runners. Tennis shoes and urban/athletic footwear are too flexible for roots and rocks on trails. Packing an extra pair of sandals for lounging in camp are a nice luxury if you don’t mind toting the weight.
• Socks: Avoid cotton. Wearing it on the trail is asking for trouble (as in blisters). Choose wool or synthetic socks in a weight or thickness compatible with your footwear.
• Head cover: Brimmed hats, caps, bandanas — whatever your choice, it’s smart to shield your scalp from all-day sun exposure. Bring ample sunscreen for exposed skin.
• Outerwear: Even if dry weather is forecast, a rain jacket keeps bugs off your arms and torso. An insulation layer (jacket or vest)wards off chills early or late in the day.

  1. What to Pack

Now, a lot of this will depend on how long your planned hike is and what sort of weather/obstacles/adventures you’re bound to get yourself into on the hike. Here are just some of the recommended essentials:
• Some sort of small backpack.You won’t be travelling with too much stuff, so you don’t need to go out and buy a 75L ultra backpack. Any sturdy bag that will hold your stuff is sufficient for now – if you decide down the road to get super serious about this camping stuff, you can invest money.
• Make sure your mobile is fully charged and ready to go – a phone can help bail you out in case of emergency, and if you have a smart phone it can multitask as your camera, compass, distance tracker, mapper, and so on. If you don’t have a smart phone, bringing a compass or GPS system isn’t a bad idea.
• Sunscreen – If it’s sunny outside and
you’re hiking through the woods or up a mountain with a cool breeze in your face, you probably won’t be able to tell that your ears and face are getting absolutely torched. Get yourself some 30+SPF waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen to cover up those ears, cheeks, and back of your neck.
• Bug spray – especially if it’s “that time of the year” in your area where bugs are out in full force. Nothing worse than coming home to arms and legs covered in bug bites.
• First aid – Having some first aid stuff with you is a good idea: band-aids and moleskin for blisters and cuts, some type of disinfectant for cuts/scrapes, and maybe a bandage or two just in case.
• Pocket knife– Not essential if you’re in a park, but a good thing to have with you out in the woods so you’re prepared for anything.
Sunglasses – No need to go blind while out on the trail. You probably already have sunglasses floating around your house: I’d recommend bringing the $10 ones rather than the $250 Ray-Bans.

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  1. What to Eat:

How much you need to bring will depend greatly on your type of trip, but you want to make sure you are adequately prepared for your adventure.
• Nuts – Almonds or walnuts. Great for snacking on and loaded with healthy fat and protein.
• Water – Make sure you bring enough water with you to keep you hydrated through your adventure – a liter or two should be sufficient. Not only that, but make sure you have been consuming water before you go hiking so that you’re not starting at a hydration deficit.
• Fruit – Throw two or three apples in your bag. Things like bananas, raisins, and other fruit are good options as well – pick based on your personal preference and tastes.
• Bread and almond butter – If you’re going to be gone all day and you’re a bread eater – toss a loaf of wheat or flaxseed bread, a butter knife, and a jar of almond butter or peanut butter in your bag – doesn’t get much simpler than that. If you’re not a bread eater, cut up your apples and dip the slices into the almond butter – best snack ever.
• Beef jerky – Make your own or go with some high quality stuff from supermarkets. Lots of protein, easy to pack, and keeps well.

  1. Aim for the high ground

Hiking to the top of a mountain, the high point in a town, or the roof of a building gives you a great halfway point to stop, eat some lunch or dinner, and enjoy the view. Another bonus of going up is you already know exactly how far you need to go on your way down. One piece of advice on going down a steep mountain or a lot of steps: shorten your stride. Also take care to land on the balls of your feet with a bent knee if possible – if you’re landing on your heels for thousands of steps, it can wreak havoc on your knees and joints as there’s no shock absorption.

  1. Make a hiking soundtrack

Now, you might be interested in listening to the sounds of nature while you hike. However if you are in a familiar area, and you feel comfortable putting on music, make an epic hiking soundtrack. Your workout playlist can come in handy to push you up the difficult parts.

  1. Clean up/check for ticks

If you’re in a heavily wooded area and carving through the wilderness, check yourself for ticks. Also make sure you take a shower with hot water and soap immediately when you get home in case you came in contact with any poisonous plants or other related nasties.

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  1. Give a hoot, don’t pollute

Pack it in, pack it out. In the wilderness, no one cleans up after you. If you bring anything with you, ensure it comes back with you – remember the saying “take only pictures, leave only footprints”!
Hopefully this article has ignited your excitement to go hiking and explore the wonderful world around us!

Proper guidance before mountain hiking

Choose the right season

What time of year is best suited to mountain hiking? The mountain hiking season lasts from June to September, broadly speaking, but conditions vary from year to year during that time. Check snow and water levels before you head out. In June there might be plenty of snow on the trails and a lot of water in the streams. The first autumn snow often falls in August. But higher up, around Kebnekaise for example, large areas are covered in snow all year round.

Notify someone about your route and planned return

Before you leave, inform a family member or a cabin manager about your route and planned return, or add it electronically using the Mountain Safety app. It’s important that someone knows your planned route and when you expect to return, so they can raise the alarm if you don’t come back as planned. In mountain cabins and shelters there are guest books where you should make a note to show you’ve been there. If someone is reported missing these messages can be useful.
When you calculate how long it will take, don’t count on more than 3 km/hour and add an extra hour per every 100 height metres. It takes even longer for many, so add time if you know you’ll want to walk at a slow pace, stop and enjoy the surroundings, or feel that you could perhaps be in even better shape.

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Adjust your hike to the weather

Often the mountain weather can be considered extreme in the sense that one moment it’s warm and sunny, the next the wind picks up and it starts to snow. During a day trip you might experience all kinds of weather – which is an experience in itself – and that’s why it’s important to pack clothes to be able to cope with all weather conditions.
Since the weather in the mountains is prone to quick changes it’s always a good idea to check the forecast on the radio, the web or through one of the various mobile apps on the market, from SMHI for example. For your own safety: always respect mountain weather alerts. The cabin managers along the trails often have updated forecasts.

The weather always get the final say. It decides what’s possible or not when you’re in the mountains, and whether your planned hike can be done at all. Not all summer days are suitable for an attempt on Kebnekaise, for example. Safety must always come first.

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Train, train and then train some more

Before you go hiking in the mountains: train. Mountain hiking is no ‘walk in the park’. This is an Arctic environment and it demands physical exertion. If the weather is bad you might run out of steam very quickly. Start improving both stamina and strength in good time before you leave. Then adapt your hike to your ability.

Book a helicopter or a boat

If the hike feels too long, it might be a good idea to book a helicopter or a boat for some stretches. Read more about boats here and helicopters here (in Swedish only). You can also contact a mountain station in the area where you are about to hike and get some useful information from those who work there.

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During the trek

Follow signposted trails

There are thousands of kilometres’ worth of signposted trails in the mountains, with distance markers, overnight cabins and emergency phones. It’s wise to follow the trails. Remember that the red crosses mark winter trails, not always suitable to follow in summer as they might pass straight through lakes and marshlands. Summer hikes are marked with stones that are painted red.

Cross waters carefully

If you need to wade do it carefully and never take any risks. Along the main trails you’ll seldom have to cross water, but if you have to these are good pointers to keep in mind:
• Never wade without shoes, use sneakers or sandals.
• Use a hiking pole as support and move one foot at the time.
• Never go in above your knees if it’s rapidly-flowing water.
• The shallowest part is often found where the brook is widest.
• During the morning hours there’s normally less water.
• Walk diagonally against the stream.
• Unfasten the waist belt of your rucksack.
• Never take any risks.

Use a map and compass

Make sure you bring a map and a compass and remember maps have expiry dates, so always bring the latest edition. Using them takes a bit of practise through, so you’ll have to learn how to use them and practise, practise and practise some more. When you really need your map and compass they don’t come with a manual, so you’ll have to learn how to follow your route on the map. That way you’ll always know exactly where you are. GPS and mobile apps that access mountain maps are handy, but remember batteries don’t last as long when it’s cold outside. Also, the same thing goes for a GPS as for a map and compass: practise, practise and practise some more.

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One idea is to mostly navigate using a map and compass and every now and then use the GPS to check your route: is this the right direction, how much further to go, and so on.

Emergency phone

Emergency phones are available in most mountain cabins and in some shelters along the trails. Check what mountain stations you pass in advance. The emergency phone lets you contact the local police and the mountain rescue. Use the emergency phone to raise the alarm if something happens or to inform about a delay for example, making sure family members don’t worry and raise the alarm unnecessarily. If you feel insecure you can use the emergency phones to ask for help – never take any risks.

Mobile phones in the mountains

Remember you can’t count on mobile coverage in the mountains. It’s still a good item to bring though, but with an extra battery or power bank. Some activity companies have satellite phones and emergency beacons for rent.

Safe and Enjoyable Hiking Tips

If the idea of mindlessly clicking off miles on a treadmill or elliptical machine at the gym leaves you uninspired, know there is a vastly more fulfilling and exhilarating exercise alternative: hiking. Surrounded by nature’s beauty, you can challenge yourself in ways unimaginable in the gym. Studies have shown that being in nature reduces stress and improves your emotional outlook while strengthening muscles and building cardiovascular health. The best part? It doesn’t cost anything to take a walk outside. If you get tired, you can turn around. If you get out of breath, take a break. And you can hike with your human or canine best friend.

Hiking and climbing have been my passion for two decades. I started climbing — accidentally — when I was 64 by following my 20-pound Australian terrier, Emme. The tiny dog insisted on going higher. Our hikes became climbs. I learned how to deal with adversity and the physical challenges of age. Together, man and dog, we were unstoppable and climbed the highest (14,000-plus feet) peaks in the Rockies.

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I wrote The Dog Who Took Me Up a Mountain to inspire others to try this breathtakingly beautiful outdoor experience. Here are some tips to help make your hike safe and enjoyable. (Please note: Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.)

1. Start small

Physical conditioning is achieved by starting with shorter hikes and gradually building up to more challenging hikes. This will help avoid muscle pulls, joint pain and spasms. Be cautious. Hiking is about health, joyfulness and smelling the roses, not competitiveness.

2. Plan your hike

Before you go, familiarize yourself with the trail. Google “local hiking trails” or a specific trail name. Spend time reviewing where it will take you and the level of difficulty.

3. Go with a buddy

Choose a compatible or supportive buddy. You shouldn’t feel pressure to go too fast or keep up. Hike with someone who wants to share this adventure with you.

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4. Equip yourself

Wear layers to be comfortable in all temperatures and weather. Invest in high-ankle hiking boots for extra support and to lower the risk of injury. Use hiking poles for better balance on challenging terrain or crossing streams on slippery rocks. Bring sunglasses, hat and sunscreen for maximum protection from the sun and wind. Always bring plenty of water and, for longer hikes, pack supplies like bandages, snacks, insect repellent and a small first-aid kit.

I also recommend packing strong string (like nylon) and a small roll of duct tape (in equipment stores they come in tiny rolls the size of a half cigarette). These will solve many problems that can arise when out in the wilderness; that includes, in my case, using string to replace a broken bootlace and fashion an impromptu eyeglasses cord, and duct tape to patch a ripped pair of pants and fix a broken sunglasses arm.

5. Be prepared if you want to bring your dog

• If your dog isn’t voice-command trained, he should be on a short leash.
• It’s best to have no more than one dog per person or two dogs total. Pack aggression is real and can intimidate other hikers/animals.
• Equip your dog with a collar or harness and a tag with the dog’s name and your contact number.
• Pack enough water and a cup for your dog. Hydration is as important for your dog as for you.
• Make sure your dog is current with vaccinations and flea/tick and heartworm protection. Ask your vet about any special concerns before your dog goes hiking.
• Trail etiquette. Always yield to human hikers. If your dog is barking, call ahead and let other hikers know your dog is “friendly, just noisy.”
• If you are uncertain about anything along the way (distant animal sound, unidentified movement catching your eye, or even seeing your dog perking up) quickly get your dog on a short leash, if he or she isn’t already.
• Bring dog treats. Dogs need snacks, too. Remember that some human trail foods, such as raisins and chocolate, are dangerous for dogs.
• When you get home, check your pup (and yourself) for ticks.

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6. Stay alert for wild animal encounters

While rare, you might encounter a wild animal like a deer or, more exciting, a bear. If the latter, avoid sudden movements. Talk in low, calm tones and avoid eye contact. If you are close enough that it spots you, don’t run. You can try clicking your sticks in the air to look bigger and make loud noise. Bears are unlikely to attack groups.

7. Know what to do in case of thunderstorms

Don’t panic. It’s more dangerous to run along a wet trail than to wait out the storm. If you’re caught in the elements, move deliberately and seek shelter along a hillside or within tree cover but don’t touch a wet tree. You can’t hide from lightning, but you can reduce the odds of it striking you. Get lower than other things around you. Lightning is an electrical discharge looking for the nearest path to ground. It is more likely to find metal (a good conductor) and/or the highest object around. In a forest, seek cover near a cluster of trees rather than a single tree, and a cluster that is thicker and lower than other trees nearby.

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Spending time planning and preparing for your hikes will make you a more confident, happier hiker. The most important thing is to enjoy your adventure.

Best guides and tips for hiking

Must-have packing list

Please note that these lists are intended for summer hikes. If you stick to forest and/or coastal trails, you can get away with a lighter load. Remember to bring extra warm clothing if you are going any other time of the year. The lists are based on the recommendations found on the Norwegian Trekking Association’s website.

• wool or synthetic underwear
• wool socks/stockings
• windproof jacket/anorak or all-weather jacket
• hiking trousers
• T-shirt and/or light sweater of wool or fleece
• hiking shoes or boots
In your backpack or pockets
• rain jacket (if your jacket isn’t all-weather)
• rain trousers (if your trousers aren’t all-weather)
• cap/hat
• scarf/neck warmer
• gloves/mittens
• shorts
• water
• food
Sleeping outside? Don’t forget your camping gear
• tent
• sleeping bag
• sleeping pad
• portable cooking stove, fuel, and cookwear
• matches
• plate, cutlery, and cup
Other essential hiking gear

• first aid kit
• map
• map case (with pencil and paper)
• compass
• headlamp/flashlight
• extra batteries
• sitting pad
• thermos
• emergency rations
• sunscreen
• sunglasses
• insect repellent
• knife
• toiletries
• towel
• toilet paper
• money
• keys
• DNT key
• DNT membership card
• binolculars
• camera
• transport schedules
• medicines
• GPSr
• book(s)
• candle
• firestarter gear
• tarp, bivy, or reflective blanket
• boot waterproofing

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Stay safe

Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.

1. Plan your trip and inform others about the route you have selected.
2. Adapt the planned routes according to ability and conditions.
3. Pay attention to the weather and the avalanche warnings.
4. Be prepared for bad weather and frost, even on short trips.
5. Bring the necessary equipment so you can help yourself and others.
6. Choose safe routes. Recognize avalanche terrain and unsafe ice.
7. Use a map and a compass. Always know where you are.
8. Don’t be ashamed to turn around.
9. Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary.
Read more about safety in the mountains

The right of access

As long as you understand and follow a few basic rules and regulations, you are free to walk almost everywhere in the Norwegian countryside. Outdoor recreation is an important part of the national identity, and access to nature is considered a right established by law.
The so called right of access (“allemannsretten”) is a traditional right from ancient times. Since 1957, it has been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It ensures that everybody can experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.
The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Make sure you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature and people – in other words, leave the landscape as you would want to find it.
The right to roam applies to open country, sometimes also known as “unfenced land”, which is land that is not cultivated. In Norway, the term covers most shores, bogs, forests and mountains. Small islands of uncultivated land within cultivated land are not regarded as open country.

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What to wear

Expect the unexpected. This may be the most important advice when packing for an outdoor adventure. Regardless of the season and the weather when you set off, remember that the weather can change quickly – especially in the mountains.
• Wear proper hiking boots – regular trainers doesn’t have a good enough grip for hiking, especially if you are going up in the mountains.
• Dress in layers to make it easier to control your temperature.
• Make sure that the outermost layer is wind and waterproof.
• As the Norwegians say, wool is cool. As opposed to cotton and polyester, wool breathes, isolates, keeps off moisture, and is temperature regulating and self-cleaning. Fleece is another good material, especially for winter trips.
• Use sunscreen – the sun can be deceptively strong, even in the winter and when it’s overcast or windy.
What’s the weather like?

We would like to tell you that it’s always sunny in Norway, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The good news is that the summer climate here can be very good, with temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius.

However, the weather can change rather fast, also in the summer. The best advice is to check the weather forecast before you go, and prepare for any eventualities.

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At altitudes of 1,000 metres or more, daytime temperatures are often around 15 to 19 degrees during summer, or a bit cooler when it’s raining. The spring and autumn months are a bit chillier – but spring in Norway is beautiful when nature comes back to life, whilst the autumn colours are magnificent.

Due to the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream, Norway has a much milder climate than other parts of the world at the same latitude, such as Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. The coldest areas in the winter are often inland or far to the north.

The climate in Norway varies a lot from country part to country part, and there can be large variations within the separate regions of Norway as well.

But in general, the coastal areas usually have relatively mild winters (still with snow and great skiing conditions in the mountains, though), whilst the inland parts have cold winters with plenty of snow, and hot and relatively dry summers, especially in the eastern parts of the country.

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Southern Norway is considered a summer island paradise, whilst Fjord Norway is a popular destination all year round. In spring, the fruit trees are blossoming. During autumn, the mountain sides turn orange and yellow. To experience the silent and serene fjords, surrounded by snow capped mountains, come during winter.

Northern Norway is also a great place to visit any time of year. While the coast enjoys a milder climate, it can get very cold in some of the inlands areas during winter. This is also the best time to experience the northern lights. During summer, the sun is up all night long – the phenomenon is best known as the midnight sun.

How to hike in winter season?

You’ve seen all those beautiful winter photos taken from the summits of Adirondack peaks, but have you ever tried winter hiking? Here in the Adirondacks, hiking is a popular year-round activity, but winter hiking introduces some new challenges.

From frigid temperatures to sudden snow storms, you have to expect the unexpected if you plan to go winter hiking. For all you beginners, we’ve put together a list of the most important winter hiking tips you should know before you go.

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Before you head for the mountains wearing whatever winter clothes you have in the house, take some time to prepare for your winter hiking trip. While it’s important to plan ahead any time you go for a hike, there are a few precautions you should follow before going on a winter hike.

Check The Weather Forecast & Trail Conditions

Winters can be harsh in the Adirondacks, especially near mountains. If you’re planning on ascending a high summit, you must prepare for cold temperatures, deep snow, and strong winds.

The best way to prepare for winter weather is to stay up-to-date on the latest forecast and trail conditions for the area you want to hike in. Take a look at the chance of precipitation, be aware of any new trail notices, check the temperatures, and keep an eye out for possible winter storms. You don’t want to be hiking when a thick fog rolls in.
In addition, if you can, you should check how much snow has already fallen in the area. This will help you determine if you need snowshoes or cross-country skis for your trip.

One final tip to remember is that days are shorter in the winter season. Check when sunrise and sunset will be on the day you plan to hike, and then try to avoid hiking in the dark.

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We provide weekly hiking conditions for each weekend

What To Wear & Bring

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the following items are essential to wear and bring on a winter hike:


• Waterproof Outer Wear
• Fleece or Wool Hat
• Winter Boots
• Fleece-Wool Clothing
• Gloves or Mittens


• Day Pack (2500-3000 c.u. in.)
• Crampons
• High Energy Snacks
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen
• Ensolite Pad
• Stove & Extra Fuel
• Map and Compass
• Skis or Snowshoes
• Flashlight or Headlamp
• Water Bottle
• Water Purification (device)
• First Aid Kit
• Ice Axe
• Bivy Sack
• Space Blanket

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This list will help get you thinking about the basics of what to wear and bring. To be fully prepared, you should pack a few days worth of food and water, extra clothing, and other supplies. It’s best to be overprepared for a winter hike than underprepared.

For a look at what an experienced winter hiker brings, see what’s in local 46er Sam Perkins’ winter hiking pack »

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How To Stay Safe

Aside from wearing the proper clothing and carrying a backpack full of essential gear and supplies, there are a variety of winter hiking safety tips you should be aware of:

  1. Go with a friend or friends. If someone in your group is an experienced winter hiker, then they’ll have good advice to share to keep everyone safe.
  2. Make sure someone knows you’ve gone winter hiking. Cell phone service is extremely limited in the Adirondacks, so it’s important to plan out where and when you plan to hike.
  3. If you know the snow will be deep, wear snowshoes or cross-country skis to make traveling easier, reduce the chance of injuries, and prevent post-holing (deep footprints in the snow).
  4. Bring or wear crampons or other traction devices on your snow boots so you don’t slip on icy areas.
  5. Be wary of areas with ice and sites where avalanches have occurred in the past.
  6. The cold air might feel refreshing, but you must remember to eat and stay hydrated, warm, and dry. This will help you prevent getting hypothermia (a medical emergency when your body temperature is below normal).
  7. It takes a lot more energy to travel through snow, so you’ll want to rest often.
  8. If your skin turns red and feels very cold, then you should find a way to get warm, even if it means ending your winter hiking trip. This is a sign of frostnip, the first stage of frostbite, which is an injury caused by freezing. It is common on fingers, toes, the nose, ears, cheeks, and chin.
  9. Whether you plan to hike, snowshoe, or even go winter camping, the key to wearing apparel appropriate for Adirondack winters is using layers that can easily be added or removed. The image above shows how to layer appropriately.
  10. For shirts and tops, avoid cotton; it retains moisture and will make you colder. Instead, choose a base layer made from thermal or moisture-wicking material. For your middle layer, choose insulating items, including sweaters and sweatshirts. For your outer layer, select a coat or parka that will repel wind and protect you from the elements.
  11. For pants, avoid denim; it isn’t waterproof and will stay damp for a long time, increasing your risk of hypothermia. Instead, use layers again, placing thermal or moisture-wicking long underwear under pants that will repel snow and rain. For socks, choose light or medium-weight ones that will keep your feet warm and dry. For footwear, choose waterproof boots that will keep your feet warm and provide good traction.
  12. Hats are a must because they help you retain your body heat. Headbands will help you keep your ears covered. Mittens or gloves should be made from waterproof or breathable fabrics (note: mittens will be warmer). Scarves or face masks will help keep you protected from the elements. In addition, sunglasses or goggles will provide UV protection.
  13. Text Version Of The Infographic Above
  14. What To Wear In The ADKS
  15. If you’re planning a trip to the Adirondacks this winter, it’s important to know how to dress! Whether you’ll be hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, or camping, the key to ADK apparel is using LAYERS that can easily be added or removed!
  16. On The Top
  17. Base Layer: Shirts made from thermal or moisture-wicking material
  18. Middle Layer: Insulating items, including sweaters and sweatshirts
  19. Outer Layer: A coat or parka that will repel wind and protect from the elements
  20. Pro Tip: NO cotton – it retains moisture and will make you colder
  21. On The Bottom
  22. Use Layers: Put thermal or moisture-wicking long underwear under pants that will repel snow and rain
  23. Socks: Light- or medium-weight that will keep your feet warm and dry
  24. Footwear: Waterproof boots that will keep your feet warm and provide good traction
  25. Pro Tip: Denim isn’t waterproof
  26. Don’t Forget
  27. Hats or headbands to keep your ears covered
  28. Mittens or gloves made from waterproof or breathable fabrics
  29. Scarves or face masks to keep you protected from the elements
  30. Sunglasses or goggles that provide UV protection
  31. Pro Tip: Mittens are warmer than gloves
  32. What To Expect
  33. The winter months in the ADKs can get chilly! Plan for an average temperature between 9 and 45 degrees fahrenheit (as illustrated in the accompanying graph of low and high temperatures in the Adirondacks between November and March), but be prepared for it to get even colder!

Tips to discover day hikes

Think of an Adirondack trail as a wilderness with paths running through it. As a hiker, you are responsible for your own welfare. Therefore, certain precautions should be taken before, during, and after you begin your hike in the ADKs!

Energizing Day Hiking Lunch Ideas

Before You Hike

• Carry a map and a compass, and know how to use them.
• Tell someone where you are going and the approximate time you intend on returning.
• Wear a watch so you will be aware of sundown approaching.
• Have a pre-arranged “turn-around” time to prevent hiking in the dark.
• Allergic to bees? Remember to take an epi-pen.
• Check the weather reports before you leave, and wear or bring layers of clothing. The weather can change quickly.
• Choose a hike that is appropriate for you – don’t overexert yourself.
• Dress in non-cotton, light colored clothes. Light colors help you be seen by other hikers and help you spot ticks if they land on you.
During Your Hike
• Sign in and out at the trailhead registers.
• Don’t travel alone if it can be avoided. It’s best to stay with your party and not split up.
• Always carry water, as well as a pocket knife, whistle, waterproof matches, flashlight, energy food, first-aid kit, rain poncho, extra clothing, emergency blanket and cell phone*. Check out what you should pack in your backpack when hiking in the ADKs »»
• Drink water consistently throughout the hike.
• Make sure to take water and food breaks to allow your body to rest.
• Do not drink water from ponds, streams or lakes (unless you boil, filter or purify first).
• Avoid swimming or wading in unfamiliar waters.
• Be on the lookout for invasives and harmful plants, taking care to avoid them and the discomfort they may cause.
• If you become lost – keep calm and warm, stay dry, and stay put to make it easier for a search party to find you.
Safety Tips Per Weather Conditions
Stay Safe in the Summer
• Be aware of heat exhaustion and heat stroke – ensure that you take plenty of breaks and pack tons of water.
• If the skies darken, the wind increases, or lightning flashes – this is likely an electrical storm.
• If you are hiking during an electrical storm – avoid high ground, isolated trees, water and metal objects.
Stay Safe in the Winter
• Dress appropriately for winter conditions (layer up, avoid cotton as it is inefficient for heat preservation, and bring extra clothing).
• Keep your eye out for thin ice and be aware of snow squalls.
• If you experience frostbite – do NOT rub the area, as this can cause further damage.
• Test ice before putting your full weight on it. Remember the old rhyme: thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky!

lattcure outfitters sleeping bag

*A note on cell phone reception in the Adirondacks. It’s spotty… do not count on a cell phone to bail you out of a jam. Reception varies widely depending on where you are and by cell phone carrier. Even on the main street of many Adirondack communities, if you have the wrong cell phone carrier, you are out of luck. Carry a cell phone as ‘something extra’ – but it should be considered the least important safety item you will have in your possession.

Discover Day Hikes in the Adirondacks

The Adirondack region is known for its many hiking opportunities, and there are trails and mountains for all ages and abilities. If you’re looking to get in an Adirondack hike but don’t necessarily want to trek 10 miles, we’ve got you covered! Below are our top picks for day hikes of varying difficulty. Remember, a short hike is not always an easy hike. Know your strengths and limitations, and always hike prepared.
Cascade Mountain in Keene is considered one of the most manageable High Peaks to hike in the Adirondacks. You can enjoy stunning views without a massive amount of effort. The distance to the summit, which is 4,098 feet elevation, can be reached by just a 2.4-mile trail.

keto hiking food

A word of warning: Although this is a doable High Peak hike it’s incredibly popular for good reason, and parking can be an issue. Make sure to arrive early and adhere by any parking restriction signs.
Cobble Lookout: A Feasible Alternative to Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington is a 5.2-mile one way hike to the top that is rated as difficult. But, you can hike nearby Cobble Lookout and still enjoy great views – including of Whiteface Mountain!

The 2.4-mile Cobble Lookout trail is excellent for all skill levels and offers views of Whiteface, Esther Mountains, and other High Peaks to the south.

Castle Rock: Great Sights, Beautiful Birds & Small Caves
Castle Rock in Blue Mountain Lake is rated moderate and is perfect for birding – you might see bald eagles! Hikers can choose to go straight up to the summit and back or as a loop; the loop takes longer, but you avoid a few steep sections. About two-thirds of the way to the summit there is a short break off from the trail that leads to small caves and rock walls.

Hadley Mountain: Fabulous Views & A Restored Fire Tower
Hadley Mountain in Hadley is a 3.4-mile trail that is best utilized from March through November (so no winter hikes here) and features panoramic views from the top, including of Great Sacandaga Lake.
There is a restored fire tower at the top that dates back to the early 1900s, although you can enjoy the fantastic views with or without making that climb.

best winter hikes in washington

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Choose Your Own Scenic Trail

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness near Schroon Lake offers several trails of varying length to choose from, and some are not too long. This is also an ideal place to camp when you’re ready for that, with 14 lean-tos to choose from. The lean-tos are popular, and often claimed early, so be prepared to both hike farther to reach an unclaimed one, or to use a designated camp site instead.

A few of the shorter trails in this area include Crab Pond Trail (1.4 miles), Lost Pond Trail (1.4 miles, plus 1.2 miles to loop around the pond), and Crane Pond Trail (1.7 miles).

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