5 Rules for Successful Hiking

These five steps will help everyone conquer the terrain—from the first-timer to the experienced hiker.

Trail sign on a Colorado hiking trail.
Photo by Robin Soslow

Whether you’re a newbie who is ready to conquer the mountainous terrain or a seasoned hiker who has completed their 100th hike—there are certain things you need to do prior to hitting the trails. No matter what your skill level, to be successful at hiking you must start with as little stress as possible before you go and during your excursion. Here are some tips to get started.

1Download a Trails App

When it comes to hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains where the weather can change in a moment’s notice, a trustworthy trails app can help in many ways. The AllTrails app helps people navigate and explore the outdoors with hand-curated trail maps along with photos, reviews and user recordings crowdsourced from their online community of registered hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners around the world. This reliable and proven app is used by everyone from the first-time hiker to the most seasoned.

2Check Local Resources

The state of Colorado website offers a plethora of useful trail information for all hiking levels. From those looking for a leisurely hike and maybe some bird watching to the more experienced hiker who want to challenge themselves in the terrain. There is also great information on best times to go on various hikes, daily weather alerts and the elevation tracking to coincide with your individual skill level depending on how much you want to challenge yourself.

3Plan Days Ahead

Plan to leave your house early in the day. For a more peaceful hiking and parking ease, avoid peak weekend times (mornings and early afternoons) and holidays. Also, pack your car the night before you head out so you don’t forget something and can hit the road before traffic gets bad—especially if you’re traveling from Denver to your hiking destination. The app Lotspot.co can provide real-time parking space availability at most of the Colorado-based trails.

4Prepare for Your Hike

There are several things you should remember when preparing your hikes. For example, make sure you get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration (start the process a day or two prior to leaving). Also, prior to your excursion, try and avoid alcohol as much as possible, limit caffeine and don’t forget to break in new hiking boots. Some hikers also like to make sure that their schedule is completely cleared for the entire day (even if conquering a half-day hike) before they make the trek so their mind is free of any unwanted stress before hitting the trails.

5What To Pack for the Road

What you bring will depend on length of the hike, where you are going, elevation and the weather etc. Some essentials are water, good hiking boots, hiking poles, sunscreen, sun hat, healthy snacks, map and/or trail app (see point #1), cellphone, camera, jacket and/or rain poncho. Also make sure you bring a lightweight, convenient backpack so you can keep hands free and protect your camera and cell phone during your trek. Tip: Hands are needed for scrambling on rocks. Lastly, make sure to fill your water bottles or hydration pack prior to leaving your house. Enjoy!