Often people will tell me they want to get into hiking but aren’t sure where to start. Many of them are parents with little ones or those who just haven’t been out in a while. If that’s you, or you are just looking for a place to start, here are a couple of tips and locations.
- Don’t wait for perfect weather or trail conditions. Lots of beauty can be found on a winter walk or drizzly spring day. As much as I like to climb and get my boots muddy, I also appreciate trails that are accessible to all levels or in the heart of the city.
- Broaden your definition of hiking. Walk every day. Take the stairs, take the long way, take the dog, get off the bus a mile or two early, have a walking meeting…if you have kids along, always have a back up plan and bring snacks!
- Start slow and see if you can build up to 3 miles in two weeks or so. Once you are comfortable with 3 miles, start adding weight to your pack and increasing mileage slowly to build endurance.
- When out on the trail, always make sure you have a hike plan (tell someone where you are going and when you will be back), have water, and your essentials including a basic first aid kit and sun protection.
If you need a little motivation, consider becoming a Hiking Merit Badge counselor with your local scout troop or joining the Minnesota DNR Hiking Club. Both will give you opportunities to get out to places you may not have ventured out to before and have built in milestones to keep you going!
If you are planning a longer hiking or backpacking trip, a good rule is to make sure your pack weight doesn’t exceed 25-30% of your body weight (even less is better!) and to get used to hiking about what you’d expect per day on your trip. There’s a ton of stuff out there on the internet…but practicing and getting your body ready will help you get all of the kinks worked out in your gear so you have more fun!
Here are a few great regional hikes that are beautiful all year long.
5 + Miles:
Elm Creek Park-50 mi of trails, 3mi loop at Nature Center
Coon Rapids Dam– 4 mi (flat)
Baker Park-6.2 mi loop
Fort Snelling– 5-7 mi (Pike Island, Shell Lake)
Minnehaha Falls – 3 mi
Hyland Park-10 mi
Chain of Lakes-10.8 mi
Fort Snelling-11mi, Pike Island twice then to Minnehaha falls.
Elm Creek-11.25mi Flat/long grades, some paved
Afton-13 mi (Hills/River/Prairie)
What are your favorite local hikes? Post them here!