How to Start Hiking As A Hobby

How To Start Hiking as a Hobby: Connecting With Nature

Beginners Guide to Hiking As A Hobby - View from Yates Mountain

A hiking hobby is a fantastic way to connect with nature, stay active, and embark on thrilling adventures. If you are wondering how to start hiking as a hobby, you are in for a rewarding journey! It can be pretty overwhelming to think of all the things you need to know and have before hitting the trails. 

Living an hour from the Rocky Mountains, it is relatively easy to take a quick day trip out to the mountains and explore. When I first started my  hiking hobby, I had a friend who took me under his wings.

Eventually I had my first time hiking alone which was invigorating! Over the last 11 years, my hikes have evolved to include my dog and now I love hiking as a hobby. I am not one to conquer the highest peak and race to get to the top. I love hiking for fun and I appreciate the amazing views, the connections with nature and the calorie burn is an added bonus.

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Hiking is a process, so take your time, learn and enjoy yourself.

This beginner’s guide on how to start hiking as a hobby will help you get started on the right foot and turn hiking into a part of your life.

This post includes what you need to know, things to consider, what to take and other hiking tips. You will learn to turn a hiking hobby into a passion that you will love!

If you are starting to hike in the winter, then there are a few things that are different, especially the gear you will need. Make sure you are prepared for the winter adventures if you choose that!

Let’s be honest….you may not want to read all of this. So you can skip to the free checklist for hiking here.

How To Start Hiking As A Hobby: Tips To Get Started

Set Your Goals

Before you hit the trails, it’s essential to define your hiking goals. Do you want to explore scenic vistas, challenge yourself physically, or simply enjoy the outdoors and just start your hiking hobby for fun?

Determining your objectives will shape your hiking experience. What do you want your outcome to be? It may be different for everyone and you need to think of yourself and what you want out of this experience. As you gain confidence in your abilities, this may change; but for now, do what makes you comfortable.

If you are wondering how to start hiking alone, this guide will provide you with valuable information.

Choose the Right Trails

Not all trails are created equal, and some are better suited for beginners. Learn how to research and select trails that match your skill level, from easy nature walks to more challenging terrains. Hiking can be physically demanding, depending on the trail’s difficulty level.

Start at a level that you are comfortable with, and build up your endurance. There is no harm in that when starting hiking as a hobby. I spent many years doing low ridges and valleys. Only in the last couple of years have I done some higher elevation hikes; but there are still many higher mountains that I will probably never conquer, and that is fine by me.

Hiking - Beginners Guide

Back in the day, I used some great trail guide books on hiking trails near me. As time evolved, as did technology, you can research trails using apps like Alltrails, Gaia GPS or just by searching the internet. Many of the apps for hiking allow people to provide their reviews of the trails, so it’s a great way to know what you are going to encounter, the best way to go (if it is a loop trail) and any other useful tips.

Make sure you check the local parks you will be going to and ensure you have a parking pass (if required) for entry. Most national and state parks require a pass for entry.


Depending where you live, starting hiking as a hobby can have its challenges, one of those can be the weather. The forecast can change very quickly. Only once in all my years of hiking, did I get caught in a rainstorm with hail. Luckily I was prepared with some great tips for hiking in the rain, so it was only partially miserable on the way down.

Make sure you check the forecast as close as possible to the location you will be hiking and remember that if you are doing a mountain, the forecast at the top can be quite different than below.

Find People To Join You

Once you find the trail you want to do, you may want to find someone to hike with. Hiking alone is very popular, but having female hikers join you can be very empowering!

If you don’t have a friend who wants to hike with you, there are lots of groups that you can join that are for hikers of different levels. One of the best groups that I joined was in the Women Who Hike community. You can find a local group in your state or province. I’ve met some great people through this site and you can get good information. There are also Facebook groups or meetup groups in your local area that you can reach out to.

What To Wear

Having good, reliable clothing is one of the most important tips in this beginner’s guide to hiking as a hobby.  Having the right gear will provide you with the support and comfort that you need.

Good quality clothing can be expensive, but it’s an investment that will last you years. Some local shops to check out are REI, Eddie Bauer or MEC (Canada).

Below is a list of products you should have as part of making hiking a hobby, including my recommendations.

Hiking Boots

Having proper support for your feet is one of the most important tips for hiking. Hiking boots are engineered to provide protection, support, and comfort. Hiking boots typically feature a high-top design that covers the ankle, offering excellent ankle support and stability.

High-quality boots often come with waterproof and breathable material, ensuring your feet stay dry in wet conditions. Depending on the season and intended use, hiking boots may come with insulation for warmth in cold weather.

Hiking shoes are a lighter and more flexible alternative to hiking boots, catering to hikers who prefer agility and comfort over heavy-duty protection. These shoes are perfect for less demanding trails and warmer weather conditions.

My favorite brand is anything Merrell, especially the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots.


Hiking Socks

Specialized hiking socks are designed to provide comfort, protection, and moisture management for your feet while trekking in various terrains and weather conditions.

Pairing the right socks with appropriate hiking footwear can significantly enhance your comfort and overall hiking experience while helping to prevent foot-related issues like blisters and hot spots.

Choose moisture-wicking and cushioned hiking socks with a seamless design to help prevent blisters and keep your feet comfortable. Merino wool is a popular choice of material and I like the Smartwool brand.

There are different styles and colors that you can choose from here:


Hiking Clothes

hiking pants

Proper hiking clothing when starting hiking as a hobby should be designed to provide protection from the elements, allow freedom of movement, and accommodate the demands of different hiking terrains and weather conditions.

It’s essential to find clothing that offers the features and fit that align with your hiking preferences. Choose pants made from quick-drying and breathable materials. Convertible pants with zip-off legs are great for variable weather.

You can also wear good quality workout clothes and most importantly, make sure you layer. A base layer that fits snug. A mid layer that is moisture wicking and lightweight. I love shopping at these stores and there are so many great options to choose from.



Fleece Jacket

I honestly love wearing a fleece jacket or hoodie when in a shoulder season. They make excellent mid-layers for colder conditions. They provide warmth and moisture-wicking properties while allowing for breathability.

I love the MEC and Columbia brands in Canada and Columbia brand in the US. Good quality and prices.


Soft Shell Jacket

Soft Shell Jacket

Softshell jackets are versatile and provide a good balance between protection and breathability. They are ideal for cool to mild conditions and are excellent for activities during a shoulder season.



Insulated Jacket

Insulated Jackets

Insulated jackets are designed to keep you warm in cold weather. They come in two main types: down insulation (which is very warm but loses its insulating properties when wet) and synthetic insulation (which retains warmth even when wet).

Choose the one that suits your needs based on the expected conditions. I prefer down insulation in the winter, with layers underneath.



Rain Jacket in a Pouch

The best thing that I ever did was get a packable rain jacket. It squishes into a little pouch so you can carry it easily in your backpack. I recommend this inexpensive option:

Rain Jacket

Essentials to Take When Hiking

Daypack / Backpack

This must-have backpack is essential for getting started with hiking as a hobby. It should be specifically engineered to provide comfort, durability, and functionality for extended periods of outdoor use. It should be able to carry all your essential items and is very important for your hike.

Things to consider are the size, fit and comfort, access areas, water resistance, durability, pockets and my personal must is pockets on the outside to carry your water in.

My all time favorite brand of daypacks is Osprey:


Daypack Rain Cover

If you’re carrying a backpack, consider a rain cover to keep your gear dry during wet weather. Lots of great inexpensive options on Amazon.

Daypack Rain Cover

Joy Walker Backpack Rain Cover Waterproof Breathable Suitable for Hiking/Camping/Traveling (Black, Small (for 15-25L Backpack))

Trekking Poles

Great addition for people who need a little extra support. They provide stability, aid in uphill climbs, improve posture and are adjustable for height.

Trekking Poles

Bear Spray

Bear Spray

This is a must when you start hiking as a hobby. I’ve been lucky that in all my years I have never encountered a bear while hiking, but they are there. I personally believe this is mandatory to carry, for your own protection. It should be easily accesible on your belt or the outside of your backpack. There are many bear safety tips to ensure you stay protected while hiking, especially if you are hiking solo.



NOTE: In Canada, Bear Spray must be bought by an authorized vendor as it is considered illegal if used in the city. Visit your nearest outdoor store to purchase.

Water Bottle

Make sure you carry enough water with you for the day. The guideline is to drink at least 1.5 liters (1.6 quarts) of water per day to prevent dehydration from the water you lose while hiking. This is my favorite to use:

Water Bottle

First Aid Kit

Definitely a must! Make sure you also include After Bite ointment for insect bites and bug spray as well!

First Aid Kit

After Bite

Bug Spray


If you get lost or injured, this is a necessity to be able to notify people of where you are. The protocol is to blow three quick times as an emergency notification.

GPS / Mobile Phone

Depending where you are, you may not have a signal. It’s essential to let people know where you are going, how long the hike is, and when you expect to be back. My mom always knew where I was, especially when I was hiking alone. 🙂


With higher elevations, the sun can be much stronger. Ensure you are protected, even in the winter. Choose whatever works best for you.


Toilet Paper

There’s a really good chance you won’t have an outhouse when you are hiking and you never know what your body might decide it wants to do!

Trash Bags

Pack it in, pack it out. Respect nature and your surroundings.


Snacks and/or Meals, depending on the length of your hike. Always best to have extra food just in case you get delayed in any way.

I once went for walk which was supposed t be a leisurely stroll around a lake. While on the hike, with suggestions of people I met, I ended up hiking to the top of the 1st mountain I had ever hiked. Luckily I was prepared!

Hiking Checklist

Ready to get started? Download your free checklist now. so you can ensure you have everything you need.

Doing some winter hiking? Read about winter hiking and download a winter hiking checklist here.

Trail & Hiking Etiquette When Starting Hiking As A Hobby

Tips to follow to respect the outdoor landscapes that you are exploring:

  • Wildlife can be in the area you are in. Learn how to react if you encounter them. Keep a safe distance and avoid feeding wild animals.
  • Stick to marked trails and follow any posted signs or markers. Follow maps or apps for trail routes. This will help you stay on a designated path and reduce the chances of getting lost.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Keep your eyes and ears open for any changes, wildlife, or unusual sounds.
  • Ensure that you have all your bases covered with your safety while hiking.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace Principles:  Respect the natural environment and leave it as you found it. This includes not disturbing wildlife and picking up trash.

Always prioritize safety and responsible outdoor behavior when exploring nature.

When starting a hiking hobby for fun, you will find countless opportunities for exploration, personal growth, and adventure. By following this beginner’s guide on how to start hiking as a hobby, you will be well-prepared to start your hiking journey with confidence.

Remember, every step you take on the trail brings you closer to nature and a healthier, more fulfilling life. I hope this article helped you with how to start hiking as a hobby. So get outdoors and have fun!

Don’t forget to download your hiking checklist!

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  1. Weather is always my biggest determining factor when it comes to hiking for me! I simply CANNOT be outside in less than ideal conditions hahah. I’ve slowly been building up my hiking gear – thanks for the jacket recommendations!

    1. Weather is always a big factor, as it is every changing. I hope you get a great jacket 🙂

  2. I love hiking and your blog was so helpful! I bought bear spray for a hike in Alaska once and fortunately never had to use it. I forgot I needed a whistle so I’ll be getting one soon. Great blog!

  3. I’m an avid day hiker and this is a great guide for beginners. Wearing the appropriate attire is so important – from shoes, to socks to layers – and crampons are a must in the winter.

  4. Great tips and suggestions – hiking is so good for our physical and mental health. I live in bear country…and carry bear spray if going deep in the forest for sure! We mostly have black bears (not grizzlies) here on Vancouver Island and have found that a whistle does a great job with these bears too – it alerts them that I’m around as I hike quietly!!!

    1. I’m in Alberta! I didn’t realize there were black bears on Van Island 😳 I will have to remember that when I come out that way next year.

  5. Ooooh a hiking guide! I’ve been hiking for a while and still learned a few new things (didn’t know that about the whistle). Great post!

  6. I am another massive fan of hiking. I grew up hiking in the teeny mountains in Ireland so it has been a bit of a shock to move to Canada with the giant, snow-capped amazing mountains here! I love that there is always a choice so you can find hikes as easy or as hard as you fancy.

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