Take a Hike! 5 Safety Tips for the Beginning Hiker

My teen daughter has a bucket list of hikes in our area that she wants to complete. We live in the perfect place for hiking. The pacific northwest is filled with amazing hikes all around. I'm told, however, that she doesn't enjoy hiking with her family. Which puts us in a strange predicament because while she is nearly legal to vote, I'm concerned that she doesn't have all the skills she needs as a novice hiker to keep her safe. I realized many people are probably in the same situation. The PNW gets inundated with visitors to our area every spring, summer and fall and people take up hiking our trails. So I created this list of safety tips for the beginning hiker so you can be as prepared as you can be for your next hike.

beginner hikes for the family around seattle
image credit Stephen Matera

 Safety Tips for the Beginning Hiker

hikes around seattle for the family
image credit: Stephen Matera

1. Make Sure Someone Knows Where You are Going

It's tempting to just hit the trails, but make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back so if something does go awry, they can alert the authorities. 

2. Plan Your Route

If you are a beginner, don't overestimate your abilities. Plan a hike that isn't too strenuous to get started so you can evaluate your skills and decide if you have it in you to tackle a more tedious trail the next time. 

Some things to consider when choosing your hiking route:

  • How much time do you have: You don't want to be hiking in the dark, so plan accordingly how long it takes you to hike the trail round trip.
  • Distance: Think about how long you are comfortable hiking and consider how much you might be carrying on your back as well.
  • Elevation gain: The amount of elevation gain determines the difficulty. 
  • Time of year and weather: There are many trails around us that are closed seasonally because of snow. The sun also sets at different times throughout the year, so plan your time accordingly.
hike pnw

3. Print off a Paper Map of Your Route

In fact, print off two. It's likely that you won't have reception on a trail and it's never a good idea to try to rely on electronics while hiking. Have a good old paper map of your trail route. The second copy can be left in your car {out of sight from passersby}. That way, if search and rescue do have to come to find you, they have an idea of the route you took. 

4. Be Prepared

Packing an extra day worth of food and water is never a bad idea. It's also important to carry a basic first aid kit with you. You might also want to prepare for bathroom stops in case the urge hits mid-hike. 

Some other safety items to consider packing on a hike:

  • flashlight/headlamp
  • thermal blanket
  • matches
  • warm clothes
  • knife
hike pnw
image credit: Stephen Matera

5. Stay on the Trail

For your safety, and for the preservation of nature, please stay on the trails! It can be tempting to go off the beaten path, but it's important that you stay on the trail so that you don't get disoriented on your hike and if you do get lost, other people can find you.

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1 comment

Lia Rose said...


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