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Types of hiking?
You mean, hiking is more than just walking?
Yes, definitely yes.
And therein lies the beauty of hiking!
You can do your own thing, and still be a member of the hiking community.
If you're new to hiking, you might want to start with this hiking advice.
Or dive right into this overview of the types of hiking you can select from, with plenty of hiking tips to get you started.
If you're a beginner hiker, dayhikes are the way to start building trail skills.
Select well marked, maintained trails within easy commuting distance from home.
Study a map of the area before you leave the trail head so you can:
Once you have a few seasons of dayhikes under your boots, you might want to consider navigating off trail using maps and GPS navigation skills.
Want all of the best hiking tips for dayhikers in one spot? This Hiking For Her book is just want you need.
Why turn around and go home when you can stay overnight in a favorite hiking destination?
However, planning overnight backpacking trips requires a longer time investment (both planning and trail time)...
If you're just getting started with overnight hikes, base camping might be best.
Staying out longer than a few days (an extended backpacking trip) demands:
But a multiday backpacking trip also yields a much bigger payoff:
To make a longer trip feasible, consider the merits of ultralight backpacking gear here.
Nothing gives you deeper satisfaction than gazing at a mountain peak or leafy ridge from the peacefulness of your camp site, knowing that you got yourself AND your gear there using the strength of your legs and your trail smarts.
For an off-the-beaten path place to learn to backpack, try the Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
If you fall in love with backpacking, try all of the different types of hiking trips:
If your significant other suggests a backpacking trip, why not go for it?
Types of hiking for women can definitely include a romantic get away.
No way around the fact that hiking is hard work in terms of sustained muscle contractions.
In fact, hikers are classified as endurance athletes!
If you've set a weight loss goal and are looking for an effective way to burn calories, consider this fact:
Here's my take on what hiking for weight loss looks like.
Forming a regular hiking habit will also tone up your major muscle groups and lead to a serious addiction to the outdoors.
To get a taste of real adventure, try heli-hiking.
Sounds too luxurious?
Well, it is pricey, but it may be just the slice of heaven you need to create lifelong hiking memories.
If you've never been in a helicopter, you're in for a thrill.
The noise and power of the beast are harnessed for your arrival at backcountry destinations that few humans achieve.
Geocaching for hikers is hiking with a definite purpose in mind:
Finding a secret, hidden cache of goodies that only non-muggles can find.
You'll need the coordinates of the cache, a navigational unit like a GPS or smartphone app, and a set of sharp eyes to locate your treasure.
Does this sound like a scary idea to you?
Night hiking is not for everyone, but it's a great skill to develop.
And the rewards of navigating a trail using only your night vision are a big thrill.
Don't let Mother Nature dictate when you'll take a hike.
Be ready for those gloomy, wet days with these tips:
Not everyone can access a dirt packed or rocky hiking trail.
For folks with mobility issues or hike with folks who use a wheelchair or stroller, accessible hiking trails are a must.
If you're free of dietary restrictions, you're one lucky hiker!
Some of us (myself included) need to pay careful attention to the food we pack for day hikes and backpacking trips.
Examples of special hiking diets:
And let's not neglect hikers with dietary preferences, such as organic trail food.
I happen to live in an incredibly diverse area for hiking opportunities: Washington State, USA.
Washington State has several active volcanoes with lots of hiking trails near (and on) them, too!
If you've ever wanted to get in some serious alpine wandering time, you can read what Pacific Northwest hiking has to offer you.
Or check out my video on the animal life you might see on a Pacific Northwest hike.
Interested in Vancouver Island hiking? Consider the challenging but rewarding West Coast Trail.
The Pacific NW is at the top left of your map of the United States. You can use my tips for all types of hiking in Washington and Oregon.
But are you ready to head south instead?
Arizona hiking trails are numerous, varied, extensive and fascinating.
The Grand Canyon or a hike through a petrified forest sounds appealing, doesn't it?
Nothing says winter like sunny warm days on miles of trails.
That's winter in Arizona! Be prepared with some hot weather hiking tips.
Need to feast your eyes on 14,000 foot peaks? Colorado hiking trails are for you.
On the other hand, Yukon hiking in the north has its appeal: solitude, caribou herds, and virtually untouched wilderness.
Why not try both??
If you want big mountains, high alpine adventures, and plenty of chances to encounter bears, why aren't you hiking in the Canadian Rockies?
Here's one hiking trip that's easy to plan for: Mount Robson hiking in the Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia.
Be aware that high altitude hiking brings its own challenges. Read the tips in that link to get ready to tackle elevation over 6000 feet.
Big adventure means you'll have to work hard to leave other human beings behind in the front country.
It's not called backcountry hiking for nothing!
A few suggestions based on personal experience:
Bush planes, helicopters, rafts, boats ... plus your strong backpacking legs. Mix and match these for a fantastic adventure.
And ponder the merits of lighweight or ultralightweight backpacking gear to make your wilderness trips more enjoyable.
You'll know you're somewhere really special if you set off to explore the surface of a glacier.
This type of hiking is technical, meaning it requires specialized knowledge and gear. So it's not for everyone.
Plus, you need a glacier, which might be harder to do in the coming decades.
To get a feel for what glacier hiking is like, read my account of glacier exploration.
Are you a history buff?
Have you had a major life transition recently and want to walk for clarity and reflection?
Tired of the same old, same old trails?
Walking the Camino de Santiago might be just what you need to scratch that itch.
Putting your boots on The Way is the opposite of a wilderness trip, but has much to recommend it:
Are you concerned about the vanishing wilderness?
Do you see people trashing a campsite and wonder why they don't respect the outdoors like you do?
Would you like some ideas on how you as a hiker can model the ethics and stewardship of socially responsible hiking?
Read Hiking For Her's thoughts on this important topic here.
P.S. Thanks for caring!
Hikers and hunters share outdoor spaces.
It's your responsibility as a hiker to know when hunting seasons begin and end.
And to make yourself visible, audible, and the opposite of a target.
Use these safety tips to accomplish all of that, so you can co-exist with hunters both on and off trails.
Why stop hiking when the snow flies?
There are at least 8 great reasons to take a winter hike.
Snowshoeing is just winter hiking, and it's twice as fun because you can:
Your navigation skills have to be well developed, though.
And your turn around time is absolutely non-negotiable, unless you find snowshoeing by headlamp or full moon an edifying activity: yet another type of hiking.
Just be sure you know these cold weather hiking tips.
Consider what you need to eat and drink, too.
Even if you don't want to snowshoe, but do want to hike during winter weather, take these winter hiking tips to heart.
Hikers get hungry in the spring for green leafy shoots - and you can take that as a dietary preference, a photographic craving, or botanically.
In the spring, trails are muddy and the weather is moody. Temperatures swing from pleasant to not-so-much. A spring hiker needs to be prepared!
Let's roll through your options.
Another type of hiking which is near and dear to my heart: teaching young people how to fall in love with hiking.
Hiking with kids is an art unto itself.
Even more so with teenagers!
I spent many years as a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader while my son and daughter were growing up.
I led groups of kids from ages 6 through 15 on camping and backpacking trips in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
And I love to work with youth leaders on skill building for the next generation of hikers.
If our young people don't appreciate and nurture the outdoors and everything in it, there goes the planet!
So if you're working with kids and hiking, let me know how I can help you, because I hold you in high esteem.
I'm proud to state that I've reached that special age bracket where the phrase "elder hiking" describes me.
But I'd prefer not to put numbers on it.
However, a basic fact of living in a human body is that accumulated wear and tear on joints and cartilage, plus improper conditioning, can leave an older hiker with aches and pains.
So if you're entering hiking as a juicy ripe tomato kind of woman (as opposed to a hard green tiny tomato), or are getting back into hiking after a surgery or injury, you might want to dip into these tips for folks over the age of ...
Oh, let's say 50 years or so.
I'll let you be the judge of when YOU become a wise old sage on the trail!
I also want to point out that hiking is good medicine, regardless of your age.
Being in the outdoors for prolonged periods of time helps you deal with stress.
That, combined with the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal work out of a hike, will keep you in top shape.
And speaking of dear Mother Nature, did you know that some hikers prefer to hike with nothing between their skin and the brambles?
For more on naked hiking, read this! Don't worry, no photos...
Not quite ready to bare it all?
Showing your skin to the world is definitely one of the more unique types of hiking!
Just in case it hasn't occurred to you, hikers need a break away from the grinding trail once in awhile, too.
I call those types of hiking breaks "mental hiking" as I bask in the sun, plotting my next adventure!
This may be the most important type of hiking, since it allows me to roam freely in a way my body can't.
While we're on the subject of mental hiking, it might be a good time to consider WHY you're on the trail.
This uncovers a different slant to the subject of types of hiking.
Are you a "peak bagger"?
Full disclosure: I have 4 maps of the Cascade Mountains, with - I kid you not!- little star stickers on the hiking destinations I've achieved over my 20 years of hiking in Washington State.
The maps have lots of twinkly little stars on them!
So I know a few things about what I refer to as "laser lock" hiking: here's the target, here's the route, LET'S GO!
But I'm mellowing as I get older.
I now entertain the possibility of other types of hiking.
For instance, what about hiking exploration?
For example, sometimes I hike with my radar set on geologic formations. My husband downloads free geology maps, and we pause occasionally to check out what we're hiking over, around, and through.
We fan out in little circles, pick up rocks, compare notes, and because he's got geology training, he tells me what I'm looking at.
I call these hikes my geology field trips!
And we take turns hauling back our "finds": lava bombs smelling of sulfur, gorgeous serpentine chunks, tiny garnets embedded in schist...
This approach to hiking is a wonderful way to connect with the ecosystem, if you extend your attention from what's under your boots (geology) to what's around you:
flowers, grasses, shrubs, butterflies, birds (botany, wildlife biology) and to what's above you: towering Douglas firs in my neck of the woods, plus clouds, birds, and the occasional freak storm.
On the way to the rocks, don't trample all of the alpine flowers!
Include "exploration hiking" in your repertoire of types of hiking, and you will come to appreciate your "big backyard" on an entirely different level.
Once or twice a season, I allow myself the luxury of hiking for relaxation.
This is one of the most therapeutic types of hiking imaginable.
During the hike, I engage all of my senses:
This gives my dominant visual sense a rest, and I end the hike in a peaceful mental space.
Definitely a great way to reset my outlook on life!
Where are you in your hiking career?
If you're just starting out, be purposeful about planning your hiking:
Look through the hikes posted by enthusiastic hikers for some great hiking destination ideas.
Please let this website give you the tools and techniques you need to
enjoy being a hiker, regardless of the types of hiking you "specialize"
Best wishes for hiking the hike you love,
each and every time!
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