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Hiking 101: So you want to start hiking?

A free quick guide for folks in southern Illinois who wish to start hiking and backpacking as a form of fun, fitness and/or lifestyle.
  1. Are you new to hiking? Have you never really done any sort of serious hiking before? Do you want to start hiking, though? If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, then this article was meant to be written for you. If you want to start hiking, you need to simply just start doing it. Hiking isn’t extremely difficult but it always isn’t really that easy, either. There are numerous trails and hiking areas in southern Illinois that offer a wide range of activities for all types of beginner hikers whether you are hiking for fun, fitness or whatever other reason you have chosen to start your hiking journey.

    First Step – Prepare yourself to be a hiker!
    The first step of becoming a hiker is to prepare yourself for being a hiker. You need to research all the areas in southern Illinois that allow for hiking. If you haven’t before, you are going to be very shocked about all the areas because there are so many of them. There are countless trails in the eastern and western portions of the Shawnee National Forest. There is Giant City State Park, Panther’s Den and even Pyramid State Park. Pretty much every county in southern Illinois offers some type of area where you can start hiking today. Find out where you can hike, learn more about the conditions and locations of the trails and that will help you start your hiking journey in southern Illinois.

    Second Step – Dress the Part!
    Now that you have found a few areas that you want to start hiking in, you need to prepare yourself in terms of what to wear, what to bring and safety precautions. One of the biggest tips concerning what to wear during your hiking trips is that you need to pay close attention to the weather. If it is going to be hot, you need to dress in cooler items of clothing. If it is going to be cold, then you will need to layer up. Knowing the trails through research is also important for this. Wearing shorts as an option to stay cool for example might not be such a good idea on a trail that might be overgrown with thorn plants. You also need to buy some basic gear to really enjoy hiking including a backpack to carry your needed items like snacks, water and bug spray. You need first aid supplies, the basics at least. Bring a flashlight in case you get lost. Bring your phone and tell others when and where you go when going hiking in case of an emergency. Get a good pair of hiking shoes or boots – protect your feet because with hiking, they are often your number one asset. As you grow into your hiking experience, you’ll eventually know what other types of gear to buy.

    Step Three – Connect with Other Local Hikers!
    Southern Illinois is full of hiking and backpacking people. We love doing it because the area offers so much in terms of it. Hiking and backpacking alone can be peaceful and a great experience but it can also be dangerous for beginners. You need to be looking for ways to connect and network with local hikers so that you can form friendships and gain hiking partners as a result. Don’t hike alone, especially on the more wilderness-related trails and areas. Hike with a buddy who knows that they are doing so that they can help you improve your hiking skills along the way. Check out our forum at SIHike.com to connect with southern Illinois hikers and backpackers so that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Hiking with others is better too because you have someone to enjoy hiking with.

    Thank you for reading my article on how to start your hiking journey. I hope this article was useful for some of you. Please support me for taking the time to write this article by sharing it with others and on your favorite social media websites. Please comment below with more of your own tips for those who are new to hiking.

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