Of all the activities you can do, hiking may be one that can really improve your mental, physical and spiritual health. It also provides a welcome break from your everyday routine. And if there is one thing you can always find in Houston, it’s a place to hike!

There are numerous hiking trails located throughout the city, most of which are easy enough to accommodate walkers of all ages and fitness levels.  If you are a novice or an experienced hiker, take a look at the following hiking tips so that you are better prepared:

1. Always consider length, time and difficulty

It almost goes without saying that hikers should consider the length, time, and difficulty level of a trail in deciding whether or not to try it. Hiking a trail that is too long or strenuous for you will sap you of your energy, frustrate you and your hiking companions, and leave you with sore muscles the next day.

You can avoid the same mistake by starting small and working your way up.  Try short, easy trails then gradually increase the length and difficulty level of your hikes. Before long, you’ll be able to enjoy full-day hikes or overnight trips.

2. Proper conditioning

If you’re a novice hiker, the casual stroll on the treadmill at the gym once a week won’t be enough to prepare you for a full day of hiking!

If you have your heart set on a particular trail, make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for it.

3. Over packing and wearing the wrong attire

When you prepare for a hike, take reasonable precautions. For day hikes, dress in light layers and carry the water and food you need. Minimize what else you carry. If you recently purchased or plan to purchase a pack, wear it on a few short trails to familiarize yourself with how it feels to hike with it.

4. It’s not a race

When you begin your hike, pace yourself: you’re not running a race. Remember, once you reach the farthest point, you usually still have to turn around and head back to your starting point. Save your energy or you risk exhausting yourself on your hike and being too tired to enjoy anything else.

5. Pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits

Faced with a choice between continuing up a trail not suitable for you and turning back, most hikers make the wrong decision. There is no shame in turning back if you find yourself on a hike that is too long or too tiring. Ultimately, you want to look back fondly on your hike, not cringe at the memory of how miserable you were or how much pain you were in the next day.

Looking for places to hike in Houston?  Click here for a list of trails

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