This summer I was able to take my family on their very first hike. I finally was able to share my passion of the outdoors with the people I love and I couldn’t have been more excited. The day before our hike, I made sure to tell my family about what to pack, including the ten essentials—see below (pop quiz: do you know what they are?).
The next day, when we got to the trailhead packed and ready to hike. Our route was a 5.1-mile out and back hike to the top of a ledge that overlooked a lake. It was known for being a very family-friendly hike with a gradual incline.
The highlight was watching my little sister, who has autism, fully embrace the outdoors. She loved hugging the trees, touching all the bugs she could find, and climbing on the rocks. When we reached the top of the ledge, my dad couldn’t stop saying “Wow!” He was so enthralled with the journey and the view at the top that he couldn’t wait to bring his friends here and wanted to even tackle a nearby mountain that he’d had heard about.
This is exactly the reason why I love the outdoors; it brings people from all backgrounds to a place where there is absolutely no judgment. Nature doesn’t judge and yet you get to embrace all the benefits that the outdoors can give you.
Want to introduce the non-hikers in your life to hiking? Here’s how:
1. Do Your Research
It’s important that you research the trail that you will be going on. There are great websites and apps like All Trails and Modern Hiker that give you information about the length, elevation gain and terrain. If this is your first hike, try and pick a popular area so you’ll have help around if you need it.
2. Gear Up
- Navigation (map, compass, GPS system)
- Sun Protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat)
- Insulation (jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, quick-drying layers like thermal underwear)
- Illumination (flashlight, lantern, headlamp)
- First Aid Kit
- Fire (matches, lighter, fire starter)
- Repair Kit and Tools (duct tape, knife, screwdriver, and scissors)
- Nutrition (food)
- Hydration (water and water treatment supplies)
- Emergency shelter (tent, tarp, bivy sack, emergency space blanket)
3. Go with a Friend
Ask a friend to join you! It’s always fun when you get a friend or family member to try something new with you.
4. Have fun
Hiking not only helps you reflect on who you are, but you get to explore the beautiful world that we live in. You’ll be amazed on just how much beauty there is in your backyard.
GREAT BEGINNER HIKES IN CALIFORNIA
- Eagle Lake in Tahoe: A short 2-mile hike into Tahoe’s backcountry that leads you to a beautiful lake. This hike was my first hike in the Lake Tahoe area. You will start off in a small parking lot off Highway 89 in South Lake Tahoe. From the parking lot, you will take the trail to Eagle Lake. This is a great hike for families where you can take a cool dip at the lake.
- Burney Falls:
- Convict Lake: Located in Mammoth Lakes, Convict Lake is easily accessible to all. Right off the 395, you will follow the road until you reach the parking lot. From the parking lot there is a 3-mile trail that goes around the entire lake. This lake is great for families, fisherman, and campers.
- Eaton Canyon: You’d be surprised to know that this canyon is so close to the Los Angeles area. Eaton Canyon is an easy to follow trail that leads you to a 40-foot waterfall. In the springtime you can see beautiful wildflower blooms.
- Stonewall Peak: Only an hour from San Diego, Stonewall Peak provides expansive views of Cuyamaca State Park and a view of the nearby lake. The trail starts across from the Paso Picacho Campground and winds up the mountain, passing chaparral and ending at a short climb to the top with a pipe railing to help guide you.
Courtnee is an elementary school teacher who is often seen out adventuring when not in the classroom. She believes in taking the time to make your soul happy and can be seen checking off her bucket list like Mount Whitney and exploring more of the Eastern Sierras. Follow her at @courtadventures