Hiking for Beginners: Tips for Finding Trails, What to Pack, and More!

Have you found yourself wanting to explore more of the great outdoors, but you aren’t sure where to start? I was in the exact same place as you just a few years ago! Now, I’m so much more confident when it comes to planning epic hiking trips and we’ve clocked over 85 miles of hiking over the past year alone! Keep reading to discover how I find the best trails and learn more about the hiking essentials we never leave behind!

Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, about 3 miles out & back.

Hiking Trails

Are you capable of making the climb on this trail?

Tips for Finding the Right Hiking Trails

Finding the best hiking trails for you and your family involves some planning ahead. You definitely need to assess your abilities and should never choose a trail that is too challenging or too long. I highly recommend starting out with shorter hikes first, especially if there will be any elevation changes.

Most trails are very well marked!

When we first started hiking, I wasn’t really sure where to go. I looked on Pinterest, read other blogs, and followed hikers on Instagram for inspiration. This led us to hiking in different National and State Parks across the country! If you aren’t sure where to start, then look into hiking at the closest National or State Park near you. These Parks are pretty remarkable, which is why the land has been protected for all of us to enjoy. Most of these Parks have trails for just about any skill level and the trailheads are well marked. Plus, you can chat with the Park Rangers stationed at most of the popular trailheads for more tips and guidance!

The AllTrails app logo

I exclusively use the app AllTrails to help find the best hiking trails for my family once we’ve chosen our destination. Jereme and I are able to hike more strenuous and longer trails, but our kids are not quite there yet. When all of us are hiking, we choose trails that range from one to three miles and are rated as easy or moderate. I really like using this app because it includes detailed information about the trail, photos from other hikers, driving directions to the trailhead, and even a map so you won’t get lost while you’re hiking!

This is an example of the information about a trail in the AllTrails app!


When you decide on your destination, I recommend checking out their website for any permits you might need to park or enter the trailhead. Several places, including some National Parks, require timed-entry permits during the peak summer months. Others require you to pre-purchase a parking pass. So, always visit the website to learn more about where you’re going and to ensure that you are prepared for your visit!

What to Pack

Glad we had our raincoats on this trail!

Adult Hiking Gear

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I have had my Hiking Back Pack for years & still love it!

Having the right gear is also essential when you’re hiking. We don’t have much, but what we do have really makes a huge difference in how enjoyable our hiking trips are.

  • Hiking Boots – I cannot stress the importance of hiking boots enough! Make sure that you purchase a pair that are waterproof and sturdy around your ankles. Another important tip is to break these hiking boots in before you hit the trails to prevent blisters!
  • Hiking Poles – Jereme really enjoys hiking with poles. I feel like they get in my way, but that might be because I’m always trying to take photos while we’re hiking.
  • Large Hiking Back Pack – Jereme carries a larger hiking back pack that holds more items, like raincoats, a towel, and my camera stand.
  • Cooler Back Pack I carry a smaller hiking backpack that holds plenty of food, snacks and water along with the first aid kit.
  • Layers – You can hike in just about clothing, but we try to stick with layers. Often, we will start hiking early in the morning and it can be quiet chilly, so we bring along sweatshirts, gloves, and hats.

Kids Hiking Gear

The boys with their Hiking Boots and Hiking Poles

I have found that making sure that my boys have the right gear is also extremely important in ensuring that the day goes smoothly. All bets are off if they get cold, wet, and miserable! Below are the things that I make sure my kiddos have before we leave for a hike!

  • Kids Hiking Boots – My boys love to explore and climb and these hiking boots have done the job! They’re also waterproof, which has been amazing since they love splashing in water.
  • Dry Fit Clothes – I like to have the boys in dry fit clothing, just in case it rains or they decide to get into water along the trails.
  • Gloves – I always pack thin gloves when we go hiking. We got really cold one summer hiking in the mountains in Colorado. Sometimes at the top of a mountain, or when a pop-up rain shower happens, it gets cold quick!
  • Raincoats – We always bring our raincoats, too. We don’t let a little rain stop our fun!
  • Kids Hiking Poles – The boys really like hiking with these hiking poles and have said that they are actually helpful when they are tired and have to walk up and downhill.
  • Cooling Bandanas – This was also a great purchase a few years ago! The boys love bringing these along on summer hikes. We usually put them in the freezer the night before we hike and they stay pretty cold!
These Cooling Bandanas were a great purchase!

In My Backpack

This is why you need Bear Spray!

I really try not to weigh our hiking back packs down with too much, but there are several things that everyone should bring along with them when hiking. This is what we pack in our back packs before we hit the trails!

  • First Aid Kit – This is another must have! It never fails, my oldest always end up with a cut, scrape, or splinter on our hikes. This travel first aid kit goes along with us on hikes, road trips, and even to the beach!
  • Bug Spray – If you’re going to hike in the forest, or really anywhere outdoors, then don’t forget to pack the bug spray! You’ll thank me later!
  • Bear Spray – We had our first bear encounter last summer in Grand Teton National Park! It was amazing to see a bear in nature, but a little scary at the same time. We felt a lot more secure having bear spray with us! Remember to open the bear spray and clip it somewhere with easy access instead of packing in your back pack!
  • Sunscreen – It’s so important to pack the sunscreen, no matter the season or temps!
  • Binoculars – We love taking along our binoculars! Sometimes the boys get a little bored during certain parts of a hike, so having these on hand is useful for many different reasons!
  • Cell Phone – I take along my cell phone for photos, but also in case of emergencies and to have a map/GPS. I suggest bringing it along at all times in case you need to call emergency services for assistance on the trails.
  • Camera Stand – Obviously not everyone will want to bring a camera stand along, but I don’t go many places without mine since I use it for our family photos! The one I have even fits in my smaller hiking back pack and isn’t too heavy to hike with!
  • Biodegradable Wet Wipes – I won’t mention any names, but my little one always has to use the bathroom when we’re hiking! These wipes really come in handy when nature calls!
  • Extra Cell Phone Battery Pack – Don’t forget an extra battery pack! My phone dies quick as it is, but especially when I’m taking photos and videos and using the GPS.
  • Head Lamps – I am so happy that we purchased these headlamps a few years ago! So far, we’ve used them for sunset/sunrise hikes, crabbing at the beach, and also at Carlsbad Caverns!

In the Car

My boys will find any water to play in, which is why I recommend bringing towels & dry clothes!
  • National Park Pass – While not every hike will be in a National Park, you might be surprised at how many places will accept a NP Pass for parking! I keep mine in the car at all times!
  • Towels – I highly recommend taking some towels with you just in case you’re caught in rain, take a dip in a water source, or get muddy on the trails!
  • Change of clothes – A change of clothes, including dry socks, is also highly recommended. Most trailheads have restrooms, but we’ve also been known to change in the car!
  • Dry shoes – We like to take off our hiking boots when the hike is over. Sometimes they’re wet, dirty, and sweaty. The boys like to throw on their crocks when we get in the car.
  • Phone Chargers – Make sure you have your car charger, especially if you don’t have an extra battery pack.
  • Battery Charger/Jumper Cables – We travel with a battery charger/jumper cables just in case of car trouble! I highly recommend, especially since most trails are off the beaten path.

Leave No Trace Principles

So thankful I found this new love for hiking!

When hiking or recreating outdoors, always be sure to follow the seven Leave No Trace Principles.

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information, visit the National Park Service website!

Layers are also a good idea!

We have seen some of the most stunning landscapes and wildlife on our hiking adventures! The memories we’ve made along the trails are some that I will cherish forever. If you’ve been hesitant to plan a hiking trip, I hope this information helps! While hiking is not for everyone, hitting the trails and getting in some exercise and fresh air is never a bad idea. If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to a leave a comment. Travel safe, my friends!


7 thoughts on “Hiking for Beginners: Tips for Finding Trails, What to Pack, and More!

  1. 1. Assess your abilities and choose a trail that is suitable for your skill level.
    2. Use resources like Pinterest, blogs, and the AllTrails app to find the best hiking trails for you.
    3. Bring the right gear, including hiking boots, hiking poles, a backpack with necessary supplies, and layers of clothing for varying temperatures.
    4. Don’t forget permits for parking and trail entry, and always follow Leave No Trace principles.
    5. Hiking with kids requires additional gear, including hiking boots, dry fit clothes, gloves, raincoats, hiking poles, and cooling bandanas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did! This was at the Grand Tetons on the Phelps Lake Overlook Trail. We actually saw 4 that day. Two were on the trail and two cubs were in the parking lot! My husband thought I was crazy packing bear spray LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

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