Community Hiking Club Hiking Tips and Information

Hiking Tips

Brown Boot 


Water is the most important thing you should think about when you go on a hike. Water regulates body temperate, transports nutrients, removes toxins and waste. You should drink water throughout the day, and not gulp it down all at once. Not drinking enough water on the trail can lead to many medical maladies such as heat stroke, fatigue, poor performance, and even death. Always carry more water than you think you will drink. Hydration packs are a terrific way to carry water, however, since they have been known to spring leaks, I would suggest also carrying a hard bottle such as a Nalgene bottle with water, plus iodine tablets and a water filter for emergencies. Do not drink water from lakes or streams without treating it by boiling, adding Iodine tablets, and filtering it.



Footwear is also important to consider. On easy trails simple running shoes may be fine, but these types of shoes are not suitable for longer, more difficult hikes. Hiking boots can help to prevent twisted ankles and knees. Do not try to break in your shoes on the trail. This will lead to blisters and a miserable experience. Well worn boots should be worn on the trails. Good tread is important. The tread will keep you from slipping and falling. Having a pair of hiking sandals such as Tevas or Merrels are great for water crossings.



Socks are important. Try wearing two pairs. A thin inner pair that is capabable of wicking (removing moisture to the outside of the sock and away from the foot) will keep feet dry and comfortable, and keep frostbite at bay in cold climes. These thin inner socks also help to prevent blisters and constant rubbing of the boots on the skin. The second sock should be a thicker hiking sock. Hiking socks are also wicking socks and will provide a buffer between the foot and the boot, will keep the foot warm or cool, dry, and in good condition.



Always layer clothes. Use Capilene or a wicking material close to the body. Smartwool makes a good base layer. Follow this with a warm layer to insulate your body from the cold. The outside layer should be wind and water resistant.



Gaiters attach to the boots and go up the leg (possibly up to the knee). There are many types of gaiters. They may keep snow, stickers, grass clippings, etc. out of your boots, and snake gaiters will keep you safe, even if a rattlesnake strikes your leg. Avoid gaiters that don’t breathe as they will hold in perspiration and you will end up with wet legs.



Cargo pants are great pants for hiking. They have pockets to hold emergency items such as waterproof matches, a 16 function utility knife, a space blanket, etc. Some of them are also zip-off legs that become shorts, which are handy when you have to make river crossings, or when the temperature rises.



Be aware of insects and animals that might cause you harm. Being prepared and knowledgeable of these hazards could save your life. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, forget all the old in the field treatments such as cutting the bite sight, sucking out venom, applying a tourniquet, etc. These field recommendations have caused more harm to patients than the venom does. The most important thing is to get back to civilization and get to the hospital as quickly as possible. If you can, be able to identify the snake to medical professionals. Watch out for ticks. Ticks may cause Lyme Disease. Try to pluck the entire tick out with tweezers. Go to the doctor immediately for a course of antibiotics to ward off potential Lyme Disease. Learn the symptoms and be a partner in your medical treatment. Forty Percent DEET is recommended for areas that have mosquitos and other disease carrying insects. However, there are also natural repellants, and clothing that limit their ability to bite. Netting that covers your head is a great preventative for bee stings and wasps. Be prepared before you go out.



Be prepared with a simple first aid kit when you go out. Sprains, cuts, bites, blisters, and broken bones are the most common hiking injuries. Take a first aid class and know how to stop bleeding, wrap sprains, and immobilize breaks. You are your own first responder. If you cannot get back to your car, be prepared with your cell phone so you can call 911. Know where you are at all times so you can describe your location. Moleskin over a blister will help to alleviate the pain and continued irritation to the skin.



Hats are a terrific thing to wear on the trail. They shade you in the summer and provide warmth in the winter. The more skin you can cover up, the better. Sunscreen is useful for small areas, but can keep the body from sweating, which is how we cool down.


Glowing Sun  

If you are on the trail when it is very hot, you need to be concerned about heat-stroke. Search out shade and rest in the shade. If there is water close by, seek out a shady area near the water. Pour water on your head. Drink water. If you are caught in the cold, you run the risk of hypothermia. Do not wear cotton on these cold days as you may sweat while hiking, and cotton does not wick, and will remain wet, which will make you even colder. Be sure to layer your clothing with wicking pants and shirt as your first layer, a warm second layer, and a wind proof outer layer. In the cold, look for shelter from the elements.


 Snow 3 

Poison Oak is caused by an oily substance called Urushiol which is found on the leaves and the stems of the Poison Oak plant. If you brush up against it you may develop signs of itchy blisters within 2 days. You cannot get it from scratching the affected area and then touching unaffected skin. You cannot get it from someone in your household that has it. You can however, get it from your dog if your dog has brushed up against it while on a hike. The best prevention is to know what poison oak looks like and stay away from it, and keep your dog on a leash and far away from Poison Oak. If you develop a bad case of Poison Oak you should seek medical attention, especially if it is on your face and near your eyes. On the trail there are several things you can do to help limit a potential break out. Wash the area immediately, preferably with detergent. Rubbing alcohol MAY help to remove the oil from your skin, and some people use prepared remedies such as technu. Make sure you have tried items like these in a patch test beforehand as many people experience allergic reactions to them.


Snow 2  

Always make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you expect to return. This way, if you get lost, the authorities will know where to start looking for you. Do not leave the trail. This is the way most people get lost. Prepare for emergencies such as this before you go, and have supplies with you to help you in a worst case senario. Hike with a friend. Do not separate from your friend. Have a map and a compass, and know how to use them. If you have a GPS, learn how to use it and take it with you. You will be able to pinpoint your position. Have a cell phone. It may not work where you are, but you can keep trying.



Know what weather to expect when you go out. Be prepared for all weather conditions. If rain is predicted, be sure you have rain gear. If it’s supposed to be hot, take much more water than you think you will need.


Blazing Sun  

Trekking Poles take your body weight off of your knees and ankles and help to prevent slips and falls on the trail. Practice with them before your first hike so you get used to the rhythm. Hiking with poles does take some getting used to!


 Hiking Stick 

It is much safer to hike early in the day. It is cooler in the summer, and if you get lost there will be more daylight to help you find your way out. 

hiker landscape 

Stay on the trails. You will be less likely to get lost or meet up with locals such as snakes, ticks, and poison oak.



Know your fitness level. Don’t try to hike 10 miles your first day out. Build up to difficult hikes, and do them only when you’re ready. 

crazy walkers

Carry a whistle with you for emergencies. A whistle can hail someone faster than your voice can. It’s also a good idea to carry a flashlight to help you if you get stuck in the dark. And, a quarter will come in handy for a phone booth if you manage to make your way out and find a pay phone!



Deer Hunter  


If you become lost, it is wise to stay in one place. You’ll be easier to find if you stay still, and you won’t be burning up energy you don’t have.


Hiking Star 

 If you are in an area where you can start a fire, make a fire ring to contain it. This will keep you warm, keep some animals away, and possibly alert a rescue team.


Stop and think. Don’t panic. Remember that you are #1. Relax and rationally think through your predicament. Treat all injuries immediately. If another member of your party is late or lost, alert rangers or sheriff’s immediately. If for some dire reason you need to leave a member of your party behind (not recommended unless this is a life or death situation), be sure to leave them food, shelter, and a written description of who they are, contact numbers, where you’ve gone, and a description of their injuries. This may save you both. It is always a good idea to carry a map, compass, flashlight, extra food, water, water filter, extra clothing, rain gear, water proof matches, fire starter, sun screen, sun lip block, hat, sunglasses, multipurpose utility knife, first aid, a space blanket, whistle, mirror, toilet paper, bug spray, rain gear, a plastic drop cloth that can be used for emergency shelter, and lots of water. It is also a good idea to carry a few days supply of any medications you routinely take.


Color backpacker  

Remember the “Leave No Trace” principle. This means that if you pack it in, be sure you pack it out. Do not litter. Be kind to the environment and pick up litter that others have left there before you. Always be in stewardship mode.


Trash can  

Use great caution when crossing water. Rocks can be slippery. Algae can cause you to slip. If possible, cross with a friend, arm in arm, and move sideways, facing upstream sliding your feet along so you are never on only one foot. Make sure you enter the water with clean boots. Caked on mud on the soles of your shoes  can cause you to slip. Crouching down, if possible with lower your center of gravity, and will help you to cross uneventfully.



Trim your toenails short. Toenails can get banged on the toe of your boot and make your toes around the nails sore. Toenails can bleed, get black, and fall off when the nails are too long. It is best to keep them short.