Beginner Guide to Hiking for Empty Nesters, Active Seniors and Retirees
Updated: Feb 26
One of the best things about being an empty nester, active senior or retiree is the gift of time to do things you enjoyed as a teenager and develop new hobbies. Hiking is something I loved as a teenager. In my teens, I backpacked all over the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Once I stopped working a full time job, my love for hiking was re-kindled in the form of solo day hiking. When CaptK retired, we embraced hiking as a way to explore the world. Hiking has so many benefits. It is a great way to get exercise while you are outdoors enjoying nature. Hiking is also a great way to experience new places. There are so many hiking trails all over the world, it is a hands on teacher of the natural environment you are visiting. Plus it gives you the added benefit of getting exercise while traveling.
The best hiking tool available to you is the AllTrails App. Most of the hikes we trek can be found on the AllTrails App. All Trails is a free app available for IOS and Android. The paid version, AllTrails Pro, allows you to download the trail map so you can view it even if you lose cellular coverage. For safety, I would recommend using this app and downloading any trail you are hiking. Above is a screen shot from my AllTrails App.
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Have the Right Equipment
Make sure you have appropriate hiking clothes and safety gear. You can find some of my hiking favorites on LiketoKnowit. and my Amazon Store., including the items pictured below:
Here are some basic "rules of the road" for hiking:
Tell someone where you’re going and when you’re expected to be back - Whether you hike alone or in a group, make sure someone knows where and when you are hiking. This way they know where to look for you if something should happen. This is especially true if you enjoy solo hiking like I do.
Start small - For your first hike choose a trail that is short, easy, and relatively flat. Hiking is very different from walking on a sidewalk or a treadmill. Plan your hike according to your fitness level. 1-4 miles is a great starting point and with an elevation gain of fewer than 800-1000 feet.
Check the weather right before your trip - It is no fun to hike in bad weather.
Leave no trace - A basic rule of wilderness explorations.
Be considerate of others using the trails - Some of these trails allow for mountain biking and/or horseback riding on the trails. Horses have the first right of way, followed by bikers, lastly hikers.
Do not approach or feed wildlife - Another basis rule of wilderness explorations. Wild animals quickly develop a taste for human food if exposed to it. This causes then to become a nuisance and often destructive. Protect them and yourself by not feeding or approaching them.
Be a lightweight - The heaviest thing in your day pack should be your water. This rule will make hiking more comfortable.
Bring sun protection - Some trails do not provide a lot of shade, plan accordingly including, sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and protective clothing.
Pack simple survival items - Once while solo hiking, I got lost in a tangle of unmarked trails. My cell phone battery was dying and I had depleted all my water. While I did get back safely before dark, it freaked me out enough to put together a lightweight survival kit that I always carry with me when I hike.
Be kind to yourself - Hiking is a personal journey not a competition. You win through enjoyment, not being the first person to complete the trail. You should walk at a pace that allows you to walk and talk at the same time.
Watch your time - You do not want to be out on a trail in the dark. Allow yourself time to get back before sunset.
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Looking for more information on hiking, click on the blog posts below:
4 Day Hikes in Sedona, Retirees will Love
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Hiking Samaria Gorge Crete, Greece
Exploring the Coastal Wetlands on Hike/Bike Trails of Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores Alabama
Hiking on Norman Island, British Virgin Islands
Hike to the Bubbly Pool on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
My Favorite Coastal Hikes in San Diego, CA
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9 Ways to Explore the Outdoors When Visiting St. Louis