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Outdoor Lore for Hikers
Makes Trail Time Sweeter

By Diane Spicer

What does an old fashioned term like "outdoor lore" have to do with hiking?

Hmmmm... some women like to hike strictly for the fresh air and exercise. Getting up and down the trail at warp speed is what it's all about, in order to gain the maximum workout.

And sometimes it's about hiking for weight loss.

Others enjoy the social aspect of shared time on the trail.

Or sometimes it feels good just to go solo to soak up some solitude.

Everyone spots these on the trail!

No matter which type of hiker you are, you will be bumping into (sometimes literally) an amazing variety of

  • animals,
  • beautiful flower gardens planted by Mother Nature,
  • weird rock formations,
  • interesting or menacing cloud patterns,
  • gorgeous butterflies, and who knows what else?

And sometimes, these natural features of your hiking terrain have a message for you that can impact your hiking trip.

  • For example, if you see certain rock types, you might be able to find some fossils. How cool is that?
  • If you spot lenticular clouds forming like the ones at the top right of this photo, you might want to reconsider your turn-around time. Do you know why?
Lenticular clouds coming off Mount Rainier with snowshoer in foreground

What's it called?

And then there are hikers like me, who just like to know the names of things.

  • That's what lures me onto the trail every time.
  • Who knows what I might see right around the bend in the trail?

I've had a lot of fun showing newbie hikers where to find edible plants, or how to figure out what fox tracks on a river bank mean. I'm self taught, and you can be, too.

For general purposes, here's a list of hiking field guides you can use to get started.

Follow the links below for specific outdoor knowledge resources to help you gain familiarity with everything that you'll encounter on your hikes.

Make it a game!

Learn one new thing every hike you take, and if you want to go all-in nerdy, keep a trail journal with photos, sketches, diagrams and pressed flowers and leaves.

  • It will make one heck of a nice winter diversion, revisiting all of your hikes in a very tangible, personal way.
  • Very nice way to pass along your love of the outdoors to family and friends, too.
Bright green and brown fiddlenecks on spring fernsBotanical outdoor lore!

Explore (or at least notice)
the life around you

Enjoy these links as you learn more about the natural world surrounding you on every hike, in all seasons of the year.



Brown clusters of mushrooms growing on a tree stump


Young male mountain goat shedding its winter coat in chunksWonder where that shaggy mountain goat is headed?





Gray jay perched on a hiking pole handle with bright blue sky in backgroundCamp robbers (gray jays) have earned their name! Do you know what else they're called?

The outdoor lore
of your surroundings





More coming!

I'm always adding to hiking resources for you...'cuz that's what I love to do.

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Outdoor Lore