Planning Your Hike – A Step-by-Step Guide

planning your hike

Time to plan your hike.

Planning your hike needs to be figured out before you can actually go for a hike.  Here are some simple tips to help with planning your hike.

I go for lots of hikes, sometimes with my family, but other times alone. Regardless of who I am with I always follow these steps when planning my hike. These simple steps will help you to be safe and comfortable on the trail. Importantly, they will give you a backup safety plan in case something happens.

Step-By-Step Guide For Planning Your Hike

Choose Your Trail

Use the tips I talked about before to help you find different hikes. Now that you have lots of options you get to pick one to go for.

When deciding what hike to choose there are a number of things to keep in mind. Make sure you consider the time of year (some trails are too hot in the heat of summer and others may have too much snow early or late summer).

Also, how much time do you have for a hike? What kind of shape is everyone going with you and how far of a trail will everyone want to do? How far is the drive to the trailhead?

planning your hike

Photo via Flickr.

Check The Weather Forecast

If I am going on a day hike I check the forecast the day before and then again the day of the hike. This allows me to make sure I know what the weather will be like that day. If I need to I can avoid going if the weather is too severe where I was planning to go and pick a different hike.

Checking the forecast also helps me to know how to dress, what clothes to bring, and whether or not I need my rain gear.

Try To Find Trail Conditions

If possible, try to find out what the actual trail conditions are like. This is important to know since some trails may be icy, muddy, or impassable. The only way to verify this is to talk with others that have recently been there, check online, or call the Forest Service or Park Service if the trail is in a National Park.

planning your hike

Pack your gear.

Pack Your Gear

Now, that I’ve already checked the weather forecast it is time to get together my gear. Look back over the previous sections that talk about the essential hiking gear when hiking with kids, infants, or toddlers.

Get An Early Start If Heading Up High

The Rocky Mountains often have thunderstorms that roll in suddenly in the afternoons. This means if you are planning a hike that climbs high in the mountains you should plan to get started early. Generally you don’t want to be high up in the mountains late in the day. An early start will also give you plenty of time in case you take longer than anticipated.

planning your hikeTell Someone Where You Are Going

 I know that this seems a bit overkill if you are just planning to take a short hour or two hike with your kids somewhere, but it isn’t. Nobody ever plans to get lost and it can happen easier than you think.

Before you go on your hike let someone know where you are going and when you anticipate returning. This could involve sending a text to a friend or relative, or talking to your neighbor if you see them when you are loading up the car. Whatever you do just get in the habit of letting someone know your plans.

Be Properly Prepared

Don’t expect someone to bail you out if things go wrong. You need to be self-reliant and be ready to do it yourself. Don’t be over ambitious and then expect someone else to help you out because you were unprepared.