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Hiking: Any tips or advice for a beginner?

Hey! So I have been wanting to get into hiking so badly lately. I am from Houston, TX and I don't know any spots near me that are good hiking spots. I am about to be on winter break from college soon so I would be fine with traveling to any hiking spots near Texas. I would like to know where to start on this journey of hiking. I would love to hear tips on gear I should buy, where were your first hikes and what I should focus on as I workout these next couple of weeks. Any advice/ tips for a beginner would be graciously appreciated! Thank you!

8 Replies

Howdy! @borivera  Your best bet for hiking are the state parks (https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/galveston-island) for example.  For backpacking you'll have to drive a bit (...a lot) to get out west to big bend or guadalupe mountains....or New Mexico, or Colorado.

happy trails!

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes

For conditioning, begin a walking/running program - something that you can start anywhere.  A general conditioning program in a gym can also  be of benefit.

Winter is a pretty goodtime for Big Bend and thee Guadalupes.  Just pay attention to the weather report and beware of storms.

Basic items are an well fitted backpack, relatively small for a typical day hike, and well fitted, broken in boots or hiking shoes.  Clothing should be appropriate for weather conditions and should include at least some sort of moisture resistant, windproof outer shell garment.  My recommendation here is the Patagonia Houdini. Some sort of fully visored hat is a good idea.

Learn to use a topographic map and compass to keep you oriented.  A good First Aid course is helpful not just in the outdoors, but everywhere - highly recommended.

For further info, I highly recommend the first 131 pages of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills which should be available in a local library.  Hiking is the gateway drug to all kinds of fascinating pursuits, from mountaineering  and climbing to bird watching...

Have fun out there and be safe!!

 

 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

That's the 8th edition (50th Anniversary) of MFOTH.  equivalent sections of earlier editions also work....

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

In addition to any groups associated with your local REI, check out other social groups like Meetup. Active groups will typically arrange a variety of hikes to accommodate the various skill levels and experience of the members. From short 2-3 mile walks to lengthy 15+ mile hikes, you should be able to find something to meet your needs.

These groups are a great way to learn about local trails, meet others interested in hiking (a great way to grow your enthusiasm about an activity is to hang with people who are also into it), and even see some of the gear in action that you've read about.

I would also recommend using the AllTrails or Gaia GPS app to find trails near you or within driving distance.

Here are a few things I would recommend:

  • Learn the basics of Leave No Trace
  • There are lots of budget options for decent gear but never go cheap on footwear. The difference between loving to hike and hating it is often caused by your choice in shoes/boots. Buy the best you can afford and make sure they fit properly. And get good socks, too.
  • Cotton kills. Never wear it on the trail.
  • Carry the 10 essentials but adjust according to your hike that day (a 3 mile walk through your neighborhood where you stay on sidewalks probably doesn't require three liters of water, a stove and cook kit, and four dehydrated meals. But carrying an energy bar is a good idea. )

Lastly, and I think this may be the most critical for me - don't forget to look around while you hike. There's a lot of amazingly beautiful things to see and enjoy when you're out. As they say, "don't count the miles, make the miles count."

Happy hiking!

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“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@borivera Thanks for reaching out!

We're so excited to hear that you are wanting to get into hiking! It is such a wonderful way to be outside, get some exercise, and even disconnect and re-center from the stress of day-to-day life. The great thing about hiking is that there are so many options to choose from, anyone can do it! That means that you can get started without having to invest a lot in gear up front, or you can totally 'geek out' on equipment for hours. Any way is the 'right' way!

To begin, we have some recommendations for resources on where to go:

  • Hiking Project is an app/website that has thousands of hiking trails and lots of great user generated content.
  • All Trails is another good online resource for finding trails.
  • You can likely find some non profits and other organizations who could be great resources for locations around Texas.

In terms of gear/apparel that you need there is quite the spectrum you have available. You can get started with a pair of sturdy shoes and a water bottle or you can go all the way to a full-on overnight kit with sleeping bag, tent, pad, stove, pack, etc. Sometimes people use the phrase 'hiking' and 'backpacking' interchangeably but, generally speaking, backpacking is when you spend at least one night on the trail and hiking can typically be done in a day. That said, there are no 'rules' governing those terms. When you say 'hiking' are you thinking day hikes or were you wanting to spend the night out on the trail? The difference between the two will definitely impact the amount and kind of gear you'll need. 

  • In the beginning, we recommend a sturdy pair of shoes that can handle the rigors of the trails you are choosing (that could be a pair of running shoes or a rigid pair of hiking boots, depending on the trail).
  • Clothing that can protect you from the elements (sun, rain, wind, etc) and is moisture wicking. Even in the warmth of Texas you can get cold if you're wet and unable to dry out. Cotton is comfortable but absorbs moisture and dries slowly so it can be a liability in the wilderness.
  • Food, water, and other essentials and a way to carry them. Typically this is a small backpack and a water bottle, but you can also opt for a hydration bladder too.

We have some great Expert Advice articles about hiking that are worth checking out. Additionally, we have some folks here in the community who are from the Houston area and may be able to provide some ideas for you as well: @suzannesimpson @Wendtadventures @EthanG @RevJakey34 @TheRamblingHiker @JeffPPeters @REI-LizP 

We have also had a couple of threads started here in the community that would be worth taking a look at:

Hopefully this helps, thanks for joining the community!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@REI-JohnJ  Last night for some strange reason, I dragged out my copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 1st edition and ran across these words.  Sixty years  old, they still ring true today.

"Freedom of th hills largely lies inthe ability to cope with every problem of travel and living, and every emergency situation with nothing more than what a party is able to carry conveniently.  equipment must be kept to the safe minimum, all frills and luxuries eliminated, and must be just as lightweight as is consistent with durability and versatility. 

The governing rule, then, is never buy until the next climb [or hike, ed.] on the schedule forces the purchase.  By improvising, modifying, borrowing, renting, delaying, acquisition o f a basic outfit can be budgeted over the entire first ....season; in succeeding years the stopgaps can be gradually replaced and the specialized tools accumulated."

 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@hikermor That's a great quote, thanks for sharing!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Check out the Lone Star Hiking Trail north of Houston. Over a hundred miles long. 

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