Summer is upon us, and the days are long in the Puget Sound area. That means it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a day hike. Whether you want to explore the beaches, valleys, or forests, the Puget Sound has plenty of beauty to offer.
But before you hit the trailhead, it’s important to plan ahead. Here are some tips to ensure your day hike is a safe, happy success.
Plan Out Your Hike
Dress Appropriately for the Weather
As the weather warms up, it’s often tempting to dawn a t-shirt, and shorts and jet off to the trailhead. But you should always bring some layers of clothes, no matter how warm it is at your home. The temperature can drop by several degrees as you increase altitude, and the conditions can quickly change. If you’re dressed for sun, and the rain moves in, you need to be prepared. Here are few important layers to remember:
Bring Enough Food and Water
It’s important to be well hydrated when you’re hiking, especially if you are hiking in warm weather. To make sure you’re well hydrated before hiking, drink about 4 cups of water. Then, plan to drink about 2 cups of water every hour that you’re hiking. If it’s hot, you’ll want to drink closer to 4 cups per hour. For most hikes under 10 miles, a standard 32 fluid ounce water bottle will be enough.
Start Out Slowly
As the season thaws, your motivation may soar as the mountains call. But, remember to start slowly. If you haven’t been out for a hike recently, or ever, start with a few easy to moderate day hikes to allow your body to adjust. After the first few hikes, you might be surprised by how tired or sore your legs are. But your body will adjust as you hike more, allowing you to take on more challenging hikes as you become more comfortable on the trail.
If you’re new to hiking, try setting a goal of hiking for 20-30 minutes. Then as you become more comfortable you can try progressively adding 10-15 minutes.
Also, remember to hike at your own pace. On the trail, you might encounter people going faster or slower than you. Don’t worry about them. If you push yourself too hard you might hurt yourself or experience less enjoyment. Hike your own hike, at your own pace, and remember to admire the scenery.
Leave No Trace
The outdoor community has a principle called “leave no trace”, which is focused on preserving natural areas and maintaining their beauty for every person who walks on the trail after you. If someone walks on the trail 5 minutes after you, or 5 years after you, they shouldn’t be able to recognize a trace that you’ve been there.
This doesn’t mean you need to hide your footprints. Instead, just be conscious of how your actions impact the area you are hiking. If you have garbage from snacks with you, pack it out. Stay on designated trails and stay out of preserved areas.
Many of the public spaces we have for hiking are sensitive habitats. They also get a lot of guests. So, by practicing the leave no trace principle, you can help preserve these habitats for future guests to enjoy just like you.
Recommended Hiking Areas for Beginners
The Puget Sound has a variety of hiking trails and parks, that range from easy to extreme difficulty. If you are new to hiking, or just looking for some beautiful nearby areas to hike, here are some excellent options.Go Outside Map.
~ Jon, Dietetic Intern & Hiking Enthusiast
BS in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology; MS Candidate for Fall 2019
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
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