Whether you’re planning to be an Arizonan for the long haul, or just in the Valley for a visit, you’re most likely going to be hitting the trails at some point.
Hiking is the rite of passage for us here in Arizona, and regardless of experience level, you’d better get out there and try it for yourself.
But let’s be honest – not all of us are hikers.
Yes, Phoenix has some amazing hiking spots, but if your idea of working out is walking your dog or playing Thursday night cornhole, you don’t want to get caught off guard and bite off more than you can chew your first time out.
There really needs to be a “Hiking for Beginners” (or Dummies) guide everyone in Phoenix should read, but since there isn’t one, we did our best to put together some first-hand advice that will help you survive your first hiking experience(s) in the Valley!
What to Wear and What to Bring with You
You can survive a hike in Nike shoes, but they don’t exactly provide great support on rougher terrain, so hiking shoes/boots are your best bet. Depending on the trail you choose – you should be okay with just your tennis shoes, but watch your steps to avoid twisting your ankle or spiking your toe on a cactus.
#FrayLife Tip: Socks that don’t slide down your foot within your shoe are just as important. Opt for a pair of socks that’s at least above the ankle
You’re in Arizona, and we’re sure you’ve heard it more than a hundred times…but this sun is no joke. Wear your sunscreen, sunglasses and light clothing. Dress in layers for those occasions where it’s chilly while in the shade and early morning hours, and shed them as you see fit.
Water is necessary, no matter what. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised, so we repeat – Water is the MOST necessary thing you can bring. A backpack with a built-in water pouch and straw are ideal, but not required by any means. Another option that’s just as effective is to pack a drawstring bag and throw a couple water bottles in there.
#FrayLife Tip: Fill each halfway and freeze the night before for an ice-cold thirst-quencher on your hike.
Don’t Forget Your Phone
Another no brainer that’s not to be overlooked. Even if it’s only to take a very basic ‘gram at the top – it’s completely and absolutely crucial to have your phone along the way. Not only can your device be used for its main function of taking iconic photos and Snaps, it also can be also be used to dial emergency services if you or any passerby may need assistance.
Sure, you can have a fun and/or relaxing hike all by yourself, but it’s safer and more fun to hit the trails with friends. You live in Phx, so chances are one or all of your friends will be down to go next time you hike, but if not, MeetUp and other local groups are great ways to connect with others who will want to join you.
Choose a Trail within Your Comfort Zone
No need to be a hero! We all have that one friend who is an avid hiker and always wants us to hit the trail with them. While we absolutely recommend you break down and go sooner than later, we can’t stress enough (from personal experience) how important it is to find a trail that’s right for your experience (or lack thereof). Your friend may have fun spending a few hours on one of the tougher, more gruelling trails, but you will not.
Research is key. Use alltrails.com, tripadvisor.com or check out the hiking articles on the #FrayLife blog to seek the best trails and feedback from hikers of all levels. Just because the hike is rated 5 stars definitely does not mean it will be within your comfort zone.
#FrayLife Tip: Alltrails is awesome because it gives so many specifics, including a map, distance, photos, and difficulty levels, and reviews all in one page. Look at trail reviews for the most accurate insight on what you’re about to get yourself into.
Honestly, just have fun with it. There are so many beautiful things to see in this area, and the majority of them are found by hiking. Be sure to take your time. Stop for a sip of water and take it all in! If it’s tough on the way up, we promise it’ll be much easier on the way down – oh, and SO worth it at the top!
Happy Trails, friends!
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