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Beginner Tips For Hiking In The Adirondacks

Editor's Note: Please follow the DEC and CDC guidelines to adhere to social distancing while hiking and recreating outdoors during this public health crisis. Hikers are asked to stick to trails close to home and only hike with immediate household family members. Read more from the DEC »

The first time I went for a hike, I came home with scrapes, aches, hunger pains, blisters and mixed emotions. There were so many things I forgot in my backpack, so many tips I had to embarrassingly learn from fellow hikers, and many mistakes that I wish I could have avoided altogether. That's why I'm here to help - to help you NOT make the same rookie mistakes when you try out some great beginners hikes in the ADKs. While these tips are definitely for those who are new to hiking, they are still relevant to those who are avid Adirondack hikers!

The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Hiking

1. Bring Plenty Of Good 'Ole H2O

Bringing plenty of water on your hike is one of the most important things you should remember. While you may think that one Nalgene bottle will get you through - you are wrong. Pack more than you think. If you think two water bottles will be enough, pack three instead. I'm telling you, hiking is a work out and the one thing you will want just as much as reaching the top will be a full, cold water bottle to guzzle down during your breaks. 

Note: Try to ration your water as best as possible. You will want to have a good amount of water during the entirety of your hike. Plus, hiking on a bloated stomach is not fun.

2. Wear Broken-In Shoes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me, it's important to reiterate. Wearing a pair of broken in, comfortable shoes is key when hiking. And no, ladies, broken in ballet flats are not an acceptable choice. Ideally, a nice pair of hiking boots that you have broken in would make the best choice. Second to that, a pair of broken in sneakers. No one likes sore feet, especially when scaling mountains. If you really want to get fancy, waterproof your shoes in advance. Your tootsies will thank you. 

If you want to get EVEN MORE fancy, try the Five Finger shoes (shown above)!

3. Dress in Layers, Layers, Layers

I honestly can't stress the importance of layers more here. Layering is essential when hiking in the Adirondacks. While it may be hot at the bottom of the mountain, it could be freezing at the top and you don’t want to have to rush back down because you're too cold. You just climbed a mountain, darn it ! You will want to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Adirondack Park! So wear a t-shirt under a long sleeve and bring a nice windbreaker and/or a sweatshirt. The extra weight of it all will be worth it.  

Note: Practical clothing is super important. Please don't even try to look cute while hiking - not even worth it.

4. Don Thick Socks

A good pair of socks goes along with having a good pair of shoes to wear. Having thick, hiking socks that cover your entire heel will save you from future pain. Thin running socks won't cut it - invest in a pair of nice socks and bring an extra pair in case you run into water (puddles are very common while hiking - seen in the final image of slideshow). Blisters are totally avoidable with a little preparation!

5. Don't Forget FOOD!

Hiking is draining. You are going to be tired and hungry, and we all know that hunger leads to anger, creating "Hanger". Trust me when I say "Hangry" people are NOT fun to be around. On that note, pack plenty of food to eat. Packing a PB&J probably won't be enough food. Bring a variety of small snacks that are high in protein to keep you full and give you energy. Apples, trail mix, sandwiches, granola bars, dried fruit, cheese sticks, and crackers are some of my favorites - and they are lightweight. And just like with water - pack more than you would expect. Packed two snacks? I say, pack three!

Plus, food will make you feel strong and determind, just like the little guy above! 

6. Equip Yourself With a Legit Backpack

Having a good backpack is something that all hikers should invest in. Don’t bring one that is old or broken. Make sure it’s one that will distribute the weight on your back comfortably and can fit everything you need in it. Also, you don’t want things hanging off of it as this will only slow you down and make you feel fatigued. Plus, if you hike with a buddy, you can alternate holding the backpack - it will give you each a little break to allow you to really enjoy the hike!

7. Grab a Walking Stick

Try your best to take a walking stick at the bottom of the mountain when you first begin your hike. Lots of times people leave their walking sticks at the bottom of the trail, but they help you balance or get through the muddy spots on the trail. Also, give your legs some love by putting some of your weight on the walking stick when pulling yourself up or lowering yourself down. You may feel silly at first, but your joints and muscles will be thanking you later.

Side Note: Onesie not required!

8. Prep for Darkness

In the Adirondacks, it gets darker faster than you think, especially if you begin your hike in the afternoon. There’s nothing quite like the panic of not thinking you can make it to the bottom before dark - not fun. Therefore, pack a flashlight. Even if it's not the biggest or brightest flashlight, it will still give you peace of mind. Also, double check it has full batteries!

9. Pack Bug Sprays and Sunscreens

Depending on the time of year in the 'dacks you hike, bug spray and sunscreen will come into play in a big way when hiking. No matter what time of year, you should wear sunscreen. With the sun blaring on your face during a hike, you definitely need some SPF. As for bug spray, that will be especially useful when the deer flies and mosquitos get hungry. Even if you spray yourself before you go and leave the bottle at home, you'll still be a better shape than doing nothing at all. 

Tip: Sunglasses can be a lifesaver!

10. Be Like the Charmin Bear and Pack the TP

As we are all human here, it is inevitable that we will need to use the bathroom. Depending on your hike, you may need to hold it for up to 8 hours. Sound like torture? Then you ought to pack some toilet paper and paper towels just to be safe. While you may be smirking now, just wait until you're a mile away from the top, with no bathroom within 50 miles, and you have drank all three of your water bottles...

Remember folks, pack the TP!

Looking For More?

Got a favorite brand or clothing item that was featured in our slideshow? We want to know about them! Make sure to leave us a comment below to let us know your favorite gear and where to purchase it!


Can't get enough? Check out other Adirondack Slideshows to see more!

And remember: Mud Puddles are Deeper than they Appear!

How I Feel When Hiking In The ADKs >>

10 Beautiful Adirondack Summit Views >>

Adirondack Photo Of The Week >>

Stunning Winter Photos >> 

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