How to Prep for All Hiking Trail Levels

Woman standing in front of red rocks on a hiking trail

Your boots were made for walking, but kicking off a new hiking adventure requires more than fancy footwork.

We’re here to make sure that while you get your high crew socks on and slip into your favorite boots or sneakers—you do the proper legwork before hitting the trail. Ensuring a safe environment whilst keeping the experience enjoyable takes preparation and planning. Not to mention, finding the trail that gels with you and your crew’s vibe also takes some research. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a beginner, here are some indispensable tips to help you get ready for your next trek into the great outdoors.

Determine Your Goals

The key to finding the perfect trail for you is to think about what your goals are first. Are you looking for more of a workout? You might defer to longer trails with higher elevation or with  stairs, for example. Is your goal to see a specific view whilst hiking? Are you hoping for a paved, cement walkway the entire journey? Identifying these things and making a list will help you have something to refer to when you’re diving into your research. The app AllTrails is a great resource for discovering a new trail to check out. 

Research Your Trail

Before lacing up your boots, research your chosen trail(s). Sometimes it’s difficult to anticipate what a trail will entail, so take the time to look at photos and reviews if you can in addition to the trail description. Familiarize yourself with the lay of the land, trail length (there and back), elevation gain, and any potential challenges. Understanding the nitty-gritty of the trail will help you pack like a pro and set realistic expectations for your hike. Make sure you identify its location on the map and the parking situation, too. For those on the West Coast, Disabled Hikers offers a detailed trail and accessibility guide.

Check the Weather

Don’t let mother nature surprise you on your big hike day. Weather conditions can seriously impact your hiking experience. Check the weather forecast for your chosen trail, especially the day before you plan on heading out. Keep in mind, weather moods can be unpredictable, especially when you're reaching for the sky in higher elevations.

Gear Up

Craft your hiking outfit based on the information you gained while doing research on the trail and checking the weather forecast. A well-fitted pair of hiking boots or sneakers with good ankle support, moisture-wicking clothing, a weather-appropriate jacket, a durable backpack, and a hat are essential. Let’s layer! Always bring a waterproof jacket to adapt to any potential changes in temperature. Oh, and stash the must-haves: map, first aid kit, and a stash of water and snacks. 

Tell Someone Your Plans

Spill the beans—safety is your number one priority. Before you strut onto the trail, let someone know your plans: including the trail you're taking, your estimated return time, and any emergency contacts. Bonus points if you can share your location for the time being. Think of it as your own adventure briefing. In the event of an unforeseen circumstance, this information can be crucial. Consider also leaving this information on your car's dashboard; that way, if you get in trouble on the trail and your car is left in the parking lot for a noticeably long time, searches will know where to look first.

Hike safely and in style, our adventurous friends!

If you live in Central Oregon and want to put these tips into action, join us for a hike at Smith Rock State Park followed by brews and snacks!


WHAT Hike the 6.2 mile Oregon Misery Trail followed by brews and snacks at Pump House Bar & Grill. 
WHO Hosted by Wondery and our ambassador Mariah.
WHEN Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 10:00 am PT
WHERE Smith Rock State Park


Space is limited–so sign up ASAP! If you’re interested in being notified about future Wondery events near you, sign up here!

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