A Short Guide to Hiking

A hike, however short or long, is one of the best ways to get in shape while taking advantage of beautiful weather and scenery in South Carolina. Slightly uneven surfaces and mild hills are enough to engage all the muscles in your legs and core and give you a cardio workout.

Getting started can be daunting, but hiking doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It can be a relaxing walk through the woods, or a fast paced trek from marker to marker. Whether you’re experienced or a beginner, keep these tips in mind.

  • Ask your doctor first. If you have any preexisting conditions, old injuries, or if you have been inactive for a while, make sure to ask your doctor for advice on where you should start with exercise.
  • Wear appropriate clothes. Cotton is not good at wicking moisture (sweat) and stays wet for a long time. Athletic and synthetic fabrics are great at wicking moisture away from skin and keeping you cool and dry. If it’s cool enough, wear pants to prevent bug bites and poison ivy exposure
  • Wear comfortable shoes. It goes without saying that your feet will be doing a lot of work while you hike. Sneakers should be enough support for an easy to moderate hike, and hiking boots help on more difficult trails.
  • Bring water and a small first aid kit – especially if you plan on doing a more strenuous trail. You’ll always need water during exercise, and some simple first aid supplies are never a bad idea when you’re in the woods.
  • Look at the trail you plan to follow before you start. The Let’s Go! map can help you find a trail or park near you. Make sure the length is appropriate and that you’ll be able to get back to where you started. Both sctrails.net and southcarolinaparks.com have trail maps and information for you to check before you head out.
  • Don’t overdo it. Start with short, daytime hikes. It’s better to get back to the parking lot feeling like a hike was too easy than to run out of energy in the woods halfway through. Start slow and short in terms of trails.
  • Follow markers and stay on the trail, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area. A fun day can be easily ruined by getting lost in the forest and having to call rangers to come find you. Note the color of the markers on the map (usually in the parking lot) before starting a hike. Also note where trails intersect and markers possibly change color. Be a responsible hiker and stay on the marked paths.
  • Bring a buddy or tell someone where you’re going. Even if you’re only planning to be out for a few hours, it’s a good idea to hike in a populated area, take a friend, or tell someone where you’ll be when going into the woods.

These are just some basics for hiking. If you want to know more, or are planning a longer trip, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy site or the Backpacker site for even more useful tips.

Hiking is a wonderful way to see more of your home state than ever before. Share your South Carolina trail experiences and pictures with us on the Let’s Go! Facebook page!

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