As the sunshine finally arrives here in the Northwest, an air-conditioned gym is likely the last place you want to be. It’s time to trade those spinning classes and bench presses for a good outdoor workout.
Hiking is a favorite outdoor adventure for Pacific Northwesterners. The reason is easy enough to guess: hiking is a great way to get in shape while taking in the stunning scenery of the region. In addition to building cardiovascular and leg strength, a one-hour hike can burn more than 500 calories. Planning a full-day trip can be tough. We recommend finding a trail that’s closer to home and plan a weekly 1-2 hour hike. There are plenty to choose from and by the end of the summer, you’ll feel fitter and stronger.
For those of you who are new to the trails, here are some tips to get you started on a great outdoor workout.
Hiking Gear Advice
Before your hike, make sure you have the right gear. Here’s our list of trail must-haves:
- Pick the right shoes – Unless you’re taking a stroll through your neighborhood park, it’s important to wear a shoe that’s sturdier than your average sneaker. The most important thing to look for? Good traction on the soles. That way, you’ll be much less likely to slip on trails.
- Wear layers – Even on a hot day, it’s important to wear layers. While you may see clear skies at the trailhead, it could easily be a chilly 40° F at the summit. It’s best to start with a shirt made of synthetic materials. This will wick moisture away from the skin and keep you dry. Also, be sure to pack a long-sleeve shirt or jacket as your second layer, and ideally, a rain jacket as well. We live in the Northwest, who knows when it’s going to rain?
- Pack the 10 Essentials – Even for shorter hikes, bring a small pack so you can stash the 10 Essentials, which is the definitive list of what to bring on any hike. Your local gear store will help you get started.
- Consider hiking poles – If you’re new to hiking, or you’re considering a steeper trail, hiking poles are a great option. They help take stress off of your back by allowing your arms to carry extra weight. They can also help you keep your balance on steep or uneven terrain. Plus, it adds an entirely new muscle group to your outdoor workout.
Hiking Safety Tips
Safety should always be your first priority when you hit the trails. When heading out to areas you’ve never explored, it’s important to remember these hiking tips to keep you safe.
- Plan your route – Research trails before you go to see if they’re in-season and within your ability. Check recent trip reports to make sure your favorite trail isn’t covered in snow, as some Northwest trails don’t clear until late July. Lastly, make sure you print all maps and have clear instructions for the trail.
- Check the weather reports – Mountain weather and city weather are two very different things. Even if it’s clear and sunny in the city, it can be storming like mad in the mountains. Before you go anywhere, check the weather report and adjust your plans as needed. Or, at the very least, pack clothing that will keep you warm and dry.
- Bring a friend – As you explore new territories, keep the buddy system in mind. You’ll have more fun on the trail. And there’s always safety in numbers. If you have to go solo, be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
All right – ready to plan your first hike? If you’re looking for Washington hikes, check out Washington Trail Association’s (WTA) list of 8 Easy Spring Hikes. This is an especially good starting point for beginner hikers. For those looking for Oregon hikes, Travel Oregon offers a great hiking search tool to help you plan an Oregon adventure.
Have a favorite hike in your area? Share it with us in the comments below!