Planning a Hike
There are two different responsibility levels when planning a hike. If you are like many people, you never have to plan the entire hike rout because often someone else is responsible for the rout, the safety, and making sure everyone knows where to go. Most people just have to plan getting to the hike and making sure they have enough food and clothing to be comfortable on the hike. This page is meant to be a guide to help people plan correctly for whatever kind of hike they are going on, and the kind of planning that comes with it.
Planning a Hike as a Hike Leader
If you want to lead a group hike, only you will ever appreciate how much work goes into planning the entire event. First, you have to choose a rout that is not too strenuous, but does provide the right kind of exercise, scenery, and excitement for all the people who will join your hike. If you do not, you may not get many people joining your event. The hike should also be at a trailhead where there are hopefully some restroom and parking possibilities. If you want to look up or add trailhaeads you know of, you may be interested in taking a look at the trailheads map.
Once you choose a rout and a good trailhead where to meet, you have to make sure everyone actually knows the time and the exact place where to meet. Even a single trailhead can be crowded and people milling around may create confusion.
After the pre-hike planning is done, you have to plan for the hike. As the organizer, it is probably a good idea to bring along a GPS unit and a first aid kit. Make sure you do not use your smart phone as a GPS unit because it may drain the phone battery. You will need the phone battery to be charged in case you need to call for emergency if anyone gets injured or the group gets lost. Additionally, while on the hike, you will have to make sure you can account for the people walking at the front of the group and at the back of the group. This is obviously difficult because you can not be at two places at once.
There are a number of ways for handling this. One of the most common approaches is to make sure another person knows where to go, and leads the group, but as the leader you actually walk at the back at the group, and make sure there are no stragglers. Safety of the hikers should always be a top priority.
Planning a Hike For Just Yourself
If you planned the hike, and have taken care of the points mentioned above, you can enjoy the hike as a regular hiker who simply joined your hike. As a regular hiker you have to plan ahead to make sure you have enough water, food, the right physical condition, and proper clothing to comfortably make it through the entire hike.
Make Sure You Are Dressed Properly
You must make sure that when you are in the woods or wilderness, far from civilization, that you are dressed properly for the occasion. That means you have to make sure you are not too hot, not too cold, protected from the sun or wet conditions if that is the case, and that your clothes is optimized for your safety and can provide padding in case you fall. Your shoes should give you good traction to minimize chance of falling. We have a page dedicated to hiking clothes if you are interested in learning in more details about the best clothing for hikes.
Bring Enough Food
If you are doing unusually strenuous activities, you will become dehydrated and depleted of your body's nutrient resources at a faster pace than you would doing regular hiking or simple walking. You need to bring along more water and nutrient-rich food. If your trip is extreme due to weather rather than distance, a water bottle that can act as a thermos can help you quite a bit. Modern insulated water bottles can keep water hot or cold for 12-24 hours. We have a page dedicated to hiking water bottles if you want to learn more about the nice-to-haves from your water bottle when in the outdoors.
Great Hike Ideas
You can make your hikes much more fun if you make them themed. For example, it can be a quest to see some cave, or a historic monument. That way the whole outing resembles an adventure more than a treadmill experience. Here are some interesting ideas you can consider that might be fun for you, and your group if you hike with a group.
- Drunk hiking or a more tasteful version of it with wine
- "Musical Chairs" hike where after 10-15 minutes everyone switches the person they hike next to, so that by the end of the hike, most people have met each other, and no one feels stuck
- Pursuit or attempt to see some rare flower or wildlife
- Volunteer event to help build trails
- Night time or low-tide hikes
- Going into deep wilderness (only if you are trained in outdoor survival and physically prepared for it)
- Get yourself lost and try to find your way out. Be careful on this one and make sure that when the fun is over, you have a solid plan to get yourself out. This isn't for everyone.