Running (or hiking) out in nature requires some attention to the important trail tips that allow everyone to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Today, National Take A Hike Day, I’m here to share some of the best suggestions for making the most of your trail adventures.
Know Where You Are, Where You’re Going, and How To Get Back
Even on the “easiest” trails, it is possible to get turned around, disoriented, or even flat-out lost. Make sure you check your route on a map before heading out. Many parks have their trail systems posted at the big trailheads, so be sure to consult with it. If you have GPS service, you can always drop a pin where you are parked to ensure that you can return to your entry point. If not, follow the chart you’ve marked, or the posted markers.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Another of these trail tips that will serve you will is to remember to wear the right shoes. Where I live, in Northeast Florida, most of our trails are fine to navigate with running shoes. The terrain ranges from paved to sand to hard packed. Elevations exist, but are minimal, so no special gear is really required. However, if you are working with more technical ground, it’s a great idea to invest in a solid pair of trail shoes, with great traction.
Stay On The Trail
For your own safety, and the protection of the ecosystem around you, keep to the trail, however that may look. By leaving the known path, you not only open yourself up to getting lost, you also run the risk of damaging the surrounding vegetation, habitats and natural world.
Leave No Trace
My favorite of all trail tips is to leave no trace. Pack out exactly what you pack in, and take a moment to pick up other litter if you see it. In some cases, the park or trail system will have garbage receptacles available, or you may have to bring a small bag for trash with your in your bag for attached to your person. Additionally, as Chief Seattle famously said “Take only memories. Leave only footprints.” If you see something beautiful, take a photograph instead of the physical thing. Leave the nature in its most pristine state, for others to enjoy after you.
Even I have gone out into the wild with the best intentions, expecting to be back at my car and home before needing to replenish my nutrients. However, even if you don’t think you’ll need water or a snack, best to bring it anyway, just in case. Better to be inconvenienced by carrying something you don’t consume during your trip, than to be stuck out in the elements, far away from aid, and be in need.
As always, safety must come first. I recommend running without headphones, so you can hear everything around you (and the sound of nature can be so peaceful). Also, while it’s great to have your phone with you, stay alert. You just never know when you might stumble across an irritated animal, or be approached by someone who may not have the best intentions. Keeping your guard up is always critical.
Watch The Weather
Again, where I am, at sea level, the weather generally doesn’t change too quickly, unless it’s heating up super quickly. However, that’s not true for everywhere. Keep an eye on things like the chance of snow, lightning, flooding or mudslides, all of which can absolutely change the game of running or hiking the trails. Bring the proper layers and gear to help deal with acclimation to extreme heat or cold, and opt out of risky weather situations.
Most Of All, Enjoy!
On National Take A Hike Day, enjoy the beauty of the natural world. It’s a privilege to be able to take part in the fresh air, the greenery, and the wonder of the great outdoors. No matter what, the view is always a little more special than when you’re logging your miles on the pavement or treadmill. No matter when you’re on the trails, soak it in and appreciate every moment!
What are your favorite trail tips? Are you hiking on National Take A Hike Day?
Join the Runner’s Roundup!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
Grab our graphic and share the love!
Great tips, Jenn!
Just yesterday I was on a 4-hour hike. It was beautiful. Besides running, hiking is my favourite activity.
We passed a couple that had no water with them – they wisely turned around after 30 minutes. Coming down, we passed two women on their way up. First of all, it was already late in the day and secondly, one of them was wearing brand new tennis shoes (we’re talking about a technical hike with 3’000 ft of elevation).
I don’t think they got very far.
I would imagine not! I wouldn’t dare wear tennis shoes on that kind of hike!
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
I don’t spend too much time on trails, but these are great reminders! Its definitely important to be prepared and bring everything you may need, just in case.
I learned the hard way. Fortunately here, the trails are pretty easy and low-risk, so it was a good place to learn the lesson.
I didn’t know about take a hike day, but you know I’ll be out there! Thanks for sharing your tips. My biggest pet peeve is seeing trash along the trail. I’ve seen quite a few masks laying on the ground, empty water bottles, and dog poop bags. I guess people think there are trail angels who will come along to pick stuff up. Ugh.
Yes. Us. We are the trail angels.
I wish I wasn’t working today. I try to hike at least once a week.
All your tips are great.
Plus always screen capture a map in case you lose cell service. Buy the right equipment. Poles are important. And spikes for ice.
That’s a great idea to screen cap the map!
Deborah Brooks says
Wearing appropriate shoes is so important! We had so much fun when we did our 4 day hike in California last summer. Great way to enjoy the outdoors
It’s the best!
All great tips! I had planned on hiking today but didn’t know it was National Take a Hike Day.
Shoes are so important and fuel, I always have water and a snack with me wherever I go. Lol
Why people litter anywhere but especially in nature is beyond my comprehension.
I hate litterbugs. How lazy can we be?
What? National Take a Hike Day? Why do I not know about these things ahead of time???
These are great tips. Now that our weather has cooled down, I really should make an effort to get out in nature more. i’m outside a lot, but usually just running loops around our neighborhood. Trails are a whole different experience. Thanks for the reminder!
You have some great trails down by you, too! I hope tot hear about some trails soon!
Kimberly Hatting says
No hiking for me today, but I’m glad there’s a day that celebrates the sport. I have zero sense of direction, so I’d have to have a buddy along with me, even on a well-marked trail.
Ha! I’ve gotten really good at navigating.
Well, I only got really lost the one time. I’ve been hiking on & off (short day hikes) a long time. So yes to knowing how to get back!
It is a great idea to have water & fuel with you. Sometimes I don’t . . . and I’ve been lucky but it’s a really bad idea so a good reminder!
Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Reading the Tea Leaves
It never hurts to be prepared. You just never know what’s going to happen out there.
Brilliant tips Jenn! I’m working on a post at the moment about leaving no trace when hiking! It was inspired by a hike I did recently where I was so disappointed about the litter around.
Shathiso recently posted…Spotlight: TishPul Founder Matshidiso Pule
Great tips! I quickly learned to always bring more snacks on hikes than I thought I would need. You can end up out there for a long time!