4 Hiking Tips
How can you get a great workout, bond with your family and friends, and score a mini vacation all at the same time? Take a hike. Keep it as simple as a walk in the woods — or add some climbing for a super workout boost. Follow our advice and a memorable outing is guaranteed.
- Plan ahead. Before setting out into the wilderness, consider your route and your company. Plan on covering roughly 2 to 3 miles per hour — less if you’re heading uphill or have youngsters in tow. If going out and back on the same trail, keep an eye on your watch so you can turn around when everyone still has plenty of energy. Check the weather forecast. After 90 minutes of steady climbing, you could find yourself in air that’s 15 degrees colder than it was down below.
- Step right. When walking on uneven ground, plant your whole foot with each step. As you climb, stay upright and don’t let your nose go past your toes. Leaning too far forward can strain your lower back and hamstrings. As you descend, gravity may tempt you to lean back and take big strides. Instead, keep your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles aligned. Bend your forward knee as you step to provide more grab for your boots and reduce strain on knees and hips.
- Hydrate. Drinking too little can lead to dehydration, but downing too much can cause an equally dangerous condition known as hyponatremia, when the sodium in your blood becomes overly diluted. To gauge hydration, take a peek at your pee. “If it looks like lemonade, you’re right on target; like apple juice, you’re dehydrated; like water, you might be drinking too much,” says Doug Casa, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. A good guideline is to drink 6 ounces of water every 20 minutes while exercising.
- Make it fun. A family hike should be short, with a route that has plenty of bang for the buck. “One and a half miles and a fabulous view, cave, or waterfall could be enough to hook your kids. Avoid an arduous 8-miler that turns them off for good,” advises Nancy Ritger, a senior naturalist with the Appalachian Mountain Club and mother of three. “Tweens and teens want to be involved, so let them pick the trail.”
FC Tip: Comfy Boots
Hiking boots have come a long way. Low-cut, lightweight shoes provide all the support, protection, and traction you need. Check out the Timberland Trailscape Low with Gore-Tex XCR Membrane, which flexes with your foot and keeps your toes dry. ($110, timberland.com)
4 Great Hikes
- Norumbega Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine. This 2.5-mile hilly journey rewards you with spectacular scenery. (nps.gov/acad)
- Max Patch Ramble, Appalachian Trail, North Carolina. Take this 4-mile loop and enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the Blue Ridge mountains. (carolinamtnclub.com)
- North Country Trail, Little Presque Isle Recreation Area, Michigan. Choose one of three short walks along the Lake Superior shoreline. (northcountrytrail.org)
- Pacific Crest Trail, Desolation Wilderness, California. Cross Echo Lake by water taxi from Echo Chalet, then join the trail and hike 3 miles to Lake Aloha. (echochalet.com)