(StatePoint) Americans are discovering the mental and physical benefits of outdoor recreation with great enthusiasm. Not only does fall hiking offer unparalleled views and breathtaking experiences, it is a great way to relieve stress and even a better way to stay fit.
Whether it’s a hike in the woods, a walk along the shore of your favorite beach or even just a stroll in your neighborhood park, it’s important to be prepared. Having the right footwear, apparel and gear will help ensure that you can focus on the beautiful surroundings, and better enjoy the time spent with the friends and family who accompany you. To prepare, consider the following tips:
1. Check a fall color guide. While you can be sure of vibrant fall foliage and leaf-peeping opportunities in many areas of the country, it’s a good idea to check a fall color guide for the particular area you’re visiting, especially if you love a good photo opportunity. Factoring in a range of scientific data, like historical temperatures and forecast precipitation, these tools can help you catch colors at their peak.
2. Pick a trail that is right for you. Make sure you look at the altitude, terrain and difficulty of the trail before tackling it. This can help you select an experience that matches the skill levels of your group. Online trail maps will give you this exact information. You can also check with your local parks department.
3. Have proper footwear: What if you could feel comfort right out of the box with your footwear with no break-in required? New footwear technologies are making this possible. The Keen Footwear Ridge Flex Collection, for example, has KEEN.Bellows Flex technology, enabling the boot to bend and flex where it’s needed most, making every step up to three times easier. Keen boots also offer waterproof protection and all-terrain traction, for a firm grip on a variety of trail surfaces. This is an ideal boot for those hiking for the first time.
4. Be prepared for changes in temperature. Weather conditions can change substantially during the course of your adventure, particularly if your hike involves elevation. Be sure to layer wisely, starting with a moisture-wicking base layer. Check the weather in advance and be sure to pack gloves and a hat if you expect temperatures to dip below freezing.
5. Be prepared for shorter daylight hours. Know the local sunset time. If you are new to hiking, plan your hike during the day. However, you should be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Hiking after dark requires more clothing, as it is likely to be colder. Having a headlamp in your backpack can be a lifesaver, along with a fully-charged cell phone and a portable GPS.
6. Stay hydrated. The weather has cooled, but hydration is just as important. Pack more than enough water for your hike -- and snacks. You’re burning calories and need to stay properly fueled.
With the right gear, preparation and knowledge, you can enjoy a full season of safer, more enjoyable fall hiking.