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