A more active Life


Hiking: A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors

Hiking is a wonderful way to explore nature and get some exercise at the same time. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, there are many benefits to hitting the trails. In this article, we’ll discuss what hiking is, why people do it, and how to get started.

First of all, what exactly is hiking? Hiking is a form of walking that takes place on trails, paths, or other natural terrain. It can range from easy walks on flat terrain to more challenging hikes that involve steep climbs and rough terrain. Hiking can be done solo or with a group, and it can be a leisurely activity or a serious workout.

So why do people hike? There are many reasons! For some, it’s a way to connect with nature and escape the stress of daily life. For others, it’s a form of exercise that allows them to get outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Some people hike to challenge themselves physically and mentally, while others do it for the social aspect and the opportunity to meet new people.

Whatever your reason for hiking, there are many benefits to be gained. Hiking is a great way to improve your physical fitness, as it involves a lot of cardiovascular exercise and can help build strength in your legs and core. It’s also a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental health, as being in nature can have a calming and rejuvenating effect on the mind and body.

If you’re interested in getting started with hiking, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll want to find some hiking trails in your area. There are many websites and apps that can help you find hiking trails near you, or you can ask for recommendations from friends or local outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll also need to make sure you have the right gear, including sturdy hiking shoes, appropriate clothing, and a backpack to carry water, snacks, and any other essentials.

When you’re ready to hit the trails, it’s important to start with easy hikes and gradually work your way up to more challenging ones. You’ll also want to make sure you’re properly hydrated and fueled up before you start your hike, and that you have enough water and snacks to keep you going throughout the hike. And don’t forget to bring a map or use a GPS device to help you stay on track and avoid getting lost!

Hiking can be a fun and rewarding activity that allows you to explore the great outdoors and improve your physical and mental health. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker, there’s always something new to discover on the trails. So why not lace up your hiking shoes, grab your backpack, and hit the trails today?

Long distance trails

Long distance trails, also known as thru-hikes or backpacking trails, are extended hiking trails that span across vast distances and often traverse multiple states or countries. These trails are popular among outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a more challenging and immersive hiking experience.

There are many long distance trails around the world, ranging in length from several hundred to several thousand miles. Some of the most famous long distance trails in the United States include the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650-mile trail that runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington. It takes an average of 5 months to complete the trail, and hikers must contend with a variety of terrain, including deserts, mountains, and forests.

The Appalachian Trail is another popular long distance trail in the United States, stretching 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. The trail passes through 14 states and takes an average of 5-7 months to complete. Hikers on the Appalachian Trail will encounter a variety of terrain, including mountains, forests, and streams.

The Continental Divide Trail is a 3,100-mile trail that follows the Continental Divide through the Rocky Mountains in the United States. The trail passes through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico and takes an average of 6 months to complete. Hikers on the Continental Divide Trail will encounter high altitude mountain passes, rugged terrain, and unpredictable weather.

Outside of the United States, there are many other long distance trails to explore. The Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand is a 1,864-mile trail that runs the entire length of the country, from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. The West Coast Trail in Canada is a 47-mile trail that follows the rugged coast of Vancouver Island, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Long distance hiking can be a physically and mentally demanding experience, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Hikers on long distance trails have the opportunity to connect with nature, challenge themselves, and experience a sense of accomplishment upon completing the trail. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, a long distance trail is an adventure worth considering.

Equipment for hiking

When it comes to hiking, having the right equipment can make all the difference in your comfort and safety on the trail. Here are some essential pieces of equipment for hiking:

  • Hiking shoes or boots: Proper footwear is essential for hiking. Look for shoes or boots with good traction and ankle support. Make sure they fit well and break them in before hitting the trail.
  • Backpack: A backpack is essential for carrying water, snacks, a first aid kit, and other essentials on the trail. Look for a backpack with a comfortable fit and multiple pockets.
  • Water bottle or hydration system: Staying hydrated on the trail is important, so bring a water bottle or hydration system with you. Consider bringing a water filter or purification tablets if you plan to drink water from natural sources.
  • Clothing: Dressing in layers is key for hiking. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you dry and comfortable. Bring a rain jacket or poncho in case of inclement weather.
  • Navigation tools: A map and compass, or a GPS device, can help you stay on track and avoid getting lost on the trail.
  • Sun protection: Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • First aid kit: Bring a basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, and other essentials in case of minor injuries on the trail.
  • Emergency whistle: In case of an emergency, bring an emergency whistle to signal for help.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Bring a headlamp or flashlight in case you need to hike in the dark.
  • Trekking poles: Trekking poles can help reduce strain on your knees and improve your balance on steep terrain.

It’s important to note that the specific equipment you need may vary depending on the length and difficulty of the hike, as well as the weather and terrain. Always research the trail and check the weather forecast before heading out, and make sure you have all the necessary equipment to stay safe and comfortable on the trail.

Great irish short and long distance hikes

Ireland is a country with a rich history, stunning landscapes, and many great hiking trails for all levels of experience. Here are some of the best short and long distance hikes in Ireland:

Short Distance Hikes

  1. Bray Head Cliff Walk: This 7km walk offers stunning views of the Irish Sea and Bray Head. It starts in the town of Bray and follows the coastline to Greystones.
  2. Howth Cliff Walk: This 6km walk takes you along the cliffs of Howth Peninsula, offering beautiful views of Dublin Bay and the surrounding countryside.
  3. Glendalough Spinc Trail: This 9km trail in Wicklow Mountains National Park takes you through forests, lakes, and mountains, offering breathtaking views of the Glendalough Valley.
  4. Slieve Gullion Forest Park: This 5km walk takes you through ancient forests and up to the summit of Slieve Gullion, the highest point in County Armagh.

Long Distance Hikes

  1. Wicklow Way: This 132km trail takes you through the stunning Wicklow Mountains, starting in Dublin and ending in Clonegal. The trail passes through forests, valleys, and mountains, offering incredible views of the Irish countryside.
  2. Dingle Way: This 179km trail takes you along the rugged coastline of the Dingle Peninsula, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside.
  3. Kerry Way: This 214km trail takes you through the beautiful countryside of County Kerry, passing through forests, lakes, and mountains.
  4. The Ulster Way: This 1,000km trail takes you through the six counties of Northern Ireland, passing through historic sites, mountains, forests, and coastal areas.

Hiking in Ireland can be an unforgettable experience, with breathtaking scenery, friendly locals, and a rich culture to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, there’s a trail in Ireland that’s perfect for you.

How to start hiking

If you’re new to hiking, starting out can be a little daunting. However, with the right preparation and mindset, it’s a fantastic way to explore the outdoors, get some exercise, and enjoy nature. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start with short, easy hikes: When you’re just starting out, it’s best to choose hikes that are relatively short and easy. Look for trails that are well-marked, with a low elevation gain and easy terrain. This will help you build confidence and stamina.
  2. Get the right gear: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on hiking gear, but it’s important to have a few essential items. You’ll need sturdy, comfortable shoes or boots with good traction, appropriate clothing, a backpack to carry water and snacks, and a map or GPS device.
  3. Check the weather: Before you head out on a hike, make sure to check the weather forecast. Avoid hiking in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or high winds.
  4. Bring plenty of water and snacks: Staying hydrated and fueled up is essential when hiking. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy levels up throughout the hike.
  5. Hike with a friend: Hiking with a friend can be a lot of fun, and it’s safer than hiking alone. If you’re new to hiking, consider going with someone who has more experience.
  6. Leave no trace: When hiking, it’s important to respect the environment and leave no trace. This means packing out all of your trash and not disturbing any wildlife or natural features.
  7. Take it slow and enjoy the journey: Remember that hiking isn’t a race. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, and listen to your body. If you feel tired or need a break, take one.

Starting hiking can be a rewarding experience that allows you to explore new places, improve your fitness, and enjoy the great outdoors. By following these tips, you can start hiking with confidence and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.