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10 Mistakes New Adirondack Hikers Often Make & How To Avoid Them

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 »

Woohoo! You've decided to become a hiker. Planning your first hike is exciting but there are a few things you should know before finalizing the details. We put together a list of the top ten mistakes new hikers make, especially in the Adirondacks, plus tips to avoid these mishaps:

1. Wearing Brand New Hiking Boots Or Shoes

Close up of new hiking boots on wooden pathway

Wearing new shoes on the trail is one of the cardinal sins of hiking. Avoid blisters and sore feet by wearing comfortable shoes. If you ordered new hiking boots or shoes break them in by wearing them around the house and out and about in your everyday life before hitting the trails. Trust us, doing a six-hour hike with boots fresh from the box will be an experience you won't forget - and not in a good way.

2. Trying To Tackle Too Much

Steep rocky incline being hiked by a group
Photo by Mike Tracy

If you plan to conquer Mount Marcy for your first hike, you're going to have a bad time. When you first start hiking, it's imperative that you pick one that's suited for beginners. Choose a hike that won't kill you after the first hour. You don't want to push yourself to the point of exhaustion or wind up feeling discouraged or defeated. Start off on trails recommended for beginners—you'll be glad you waited before taking on big peaks!

3. Exerting Yourself Too Much Early On

Hikers jumping for joy after reaching the summit
Photo by Kim Colvin

Repeat after us, Hiking Is Not A Race. Think of it like a marathon, where pace is key. You don't want to use up all of your energy within the first mile. You'll be hurting by mile 4 and then you'll be ready to give up - which is not so good. Take your time on the trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery around you. Embrace the philosophy of the tortoise: take it slow and steady so you can jump for joy at the summit.

4. Wearing Denim

Man taking a photo during a hiking trip
Example of a good hiking outfit

Put your beloved jeans back in the drawer. Wearing comfortable pants is important when hiking, especially as a new hiker. Go for the yoga pants, stretch pants, wind pants... pretty much anything but denim. On top of being uncomfortable, your jeans are most likely cotton. Cotton is a terrible choice for hiking: it takes forever to dry and can ice up in below-freezing weather. The moisture from cold, wet fabric against your skin will sap your body heat leaving you freezing and shivering your entire hike, resulting in a pretty rotten mood. Jeans are also bound to cause some chafing and just general discomfort.

5. Starting Too Late In The Day

Sunset as seen from Prospect Mountain

Hiking is much more enjoyable in the daytime. You're able to see your surroundings clearly, snap some great photos, and enjoy the sunshine once you reach the top. A lot of beginner hikers start their hike in the afternoon, which really is too late to begin. You want to get going as early as possible. Starting around 9:00 am is usually a safe bet - you will begin your hike in the daylight and end it in the daylight. There is nothing more terrifying than climbing down the mountain in pitch dark (especially if you don't have a flashlight), so rise 'n shine and get going!

6. Not Checking The Weather Forecast

Lightning over Lake George

Trudging through pouring rain is probably not the idea you have in mind for your first hike. You imagine a day full of sunshine, with a clear blue sky and a light breeze while you conquer your first trail. Check the weather in the days leading up to your hike and before you start so you know what to expect. Avoid days with a high chance of rain, hail, snow, and lightning. Just remember, weather forecasts are never 100% accurate and weather on the trail can change in an instant. Before you start hiking regularly, learn what to do if you run into a storm on the trail.

7. Not Bringing Enough Water

Backpack with water bottle in pocket

Even if you think you've packed enough water, you probably haven't. We cannot stress how important water is while hiking. New hikers often make the mistake of bringing one bottle of water on a six-hour hike. Rookie move. You'll want to have at least two bottles of water for yourself. While hiking, you're expending energy and sweating so you'll need to hydrate along the way. Sports drinks and juices are okay to drink while hiking, but water is the best choice. Water is the one thing you don't want to forget to pack. Check out other recommendations for what to pack.

8. Forgetting To Pack Snacks

Trail mix with raisins, cashews, almonds, and walnuts

Like water, snacks are imperative for hiking. When you first start out, it's easy to underestimate how ravenous you'll get while hiking. You might think "I don't eat much anyway, I'll just bring a sandwich for lunch at the summit." This type of thinking will leave you hangry. Your body needs protein, carbs, and healthy fats for energy. Pack things like fruit, granola bars, nuts, trail mix, and sandwiches for snacking along the trail.

9. Skipping Breakfast

Museli break

You already know not packing enough snacks is a good way to end up hangry. Skipping breakfast is a huge mistake that should be avoided every time you decide to go for a hike. If you don't typically eat anything in the morning, nibble on something before you hike. Even if it's a piece of toast, it will satisfy your stomach and mind enough to get your hike started on the right foot! The best breakfasts will be high in protein and fiber to keep you full. Yogurt with fruit and granola, eggs, and even smoothies are great choices.

10. Spacing Out

Hikers stopping for lunch on a rock overlooking an Adirondack lake
Photo by Gerry Lemmo

While hiking, it's really easy to focus on the physical motions of hiking and totally zone out. Since hiking uses so much energy, it's easy for beginners to focus on the task of hiking instead of the journey. It's not the worst thing that can happen, but you'll miss out on some of the best parts of hiking. To stay present, take breaks along the way. Stop to take a breather, whip out your phone or camera to snap some photos, and soak in the incredible Adirondack views around you. Hiking is not always about reaching the summit, the journey is often the destination.

View Our Beginner's Guide To Hiking In The Adirondacks »

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