Did you know that there are so many mental and physical health benefits of hiking? It can help you get into better shape, reduce stress, and even improve brain power.
Held the first Saturday in June every year, National Trails Day highlights the benefits that trails offer people as a place for recreation and nature appreciation, as well as encouraging people to discover local trails, become active in trail issues and share their enthusiasm for the outdoors.
So this National Trails Day, why not hit the trails and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Essential Items to Bring
If you’re new to hiking, here are a few essential items to bring with you to ensure you’re safe and comfortable while on the trail.
Footwear is one of the most important items you need to choose, and it’s a very personal choice. Some hikers prefer supportive over-the-ankle boots, while others enjoy lightweight trail-running shoes. Whatever you choose, make sure the boots or shoes are well broken-in and comfortable for long distances.
Choose clothing made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as wool or polyester. Avoid cotton, which takes a long time to dry when wet. Also, consider wearing layers as your body temperature will most likely change as you start moving or the weather changes.
Protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays and slather up with sunscreen, even if you’re hiking in the woods. Wear a hat if you’ll be hiking in the direct sun and don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Staying hydrated is important no matter what you’re doing. You may think you won’t get thirsty if you’re taking a short hike but you’d be surprised. So bring along a reusable water bottle that will keep your water cold for hours. It's also a good idea to carry a granola bar, protein bar, trail mix or some snack with you. You’re burning calories on the trail, plus you never know if something may delay you from getting back to the car later than you planned.
You don’t need to be a medical pro to take a hike, but it’s wise to know some basic first aid. Always carry a first-aid kit and know how to use it. You never know when you’ll need it.
Of course, you’ll need a bag to pack your items in. A backpack is an excellent option, since it leaves your hands free and is big enough to carry your water and snacks.
Leave No Trace
While most of us have no intention of harming our natural surroundings, we may not know how to preserve them or we’re simply overlooking a few important behaviors. The seven principles of Leave No Trace offer guidance for enjoying the outdoors in a sustainable way without causing harmful human impacts.
The seven principles are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
However you decide to celebrate National Trails Day, have fun and remember to leave no trace.