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Hiking For Beginners + 8 Easy Hiking Trails (Okay For Kids Too)

Are you new to hiking? Are you looking for the best hiking trails with easy grades? I cover things to know and include eight places to go hiking that feature gentle slopes and overnight stay options. Places to hike like these that have easy gradients are also good for having kids accompany you.

Getting outdoors to places like this is inspiring and energizing -- Nature trails

There are heaps of magnificent places, some are tough going because of high altitude and steep slopes. Some of these are quite long hiking trails. But in choosing hiking trails for beginners, easy gradients are recommended.

The best hiking trails in this case means nothing too strenuous or too harsh, and mostly gentle grading. 

Why Go Hiking?

Just a few reasons to go hiking:

  1. Invigorate Yourself

    Improve your mood and nourish your body from sunshine (Vitamin D), fresh air, and breathing in phytoncides (wood essential oils) that invigorate your body and mind.

  2. Fitness / Staying Young

    Walking provides a well-paced exercise. Benefits of walking include firming up glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, shins, and foot muscles. Walking is great for getting oxygen to the brain. Science tells us that walking produces retrograde wave-like pressure pulses from foot impacts that dynamically improve blood circulation ¹ – a type of hydraulic effect that benefits our brain. Improving fitness levels is anti-aging.

  3. Stress Relief

    Space to reflect, and allow intuitive and creative thought. Escape from internal worries and hectic work or home life. Find inner peace and well-being.

  4. New Friendships

    New friends and new perspectives. Belonging to a group of enthusiasts with common interests.

  5. Cultural Awareness and Sight Seeing

    Finding out about new cultures and stimulating places. Let’s face it, walking is the easiest and sometimes the only way to capture the best views of nature. You’ll see sights that are impossible to see from a vehicle by day and dark night skies you would never see within city limits — a lightweight telescope would be good to take. 

  6. Making a Difference

    Making a difference through charity walks, e.g. through Coastrek, which is about raising funds for people and places in need

With all this in mind, to get the most gain, it’s important to be prepared, with the right gear etc.

Talking about plans for the hiking trip

Preparing for a Trekking Trip

If you are planning on doing a trekking trip, hiking expedition, trekking trail, or tramping (other names for hiking) whether it’s short or long, you need to do some preparation.

The movie ‘Wild’ is about one woman’s reason to embark upon a great walk. Her experiences, her struggles, and her self-realization through this very experience are captured by this movie. It’s worth viewing if you’re considering walking and camping along trails. It’s available at Amazon — See details.

Check Walking Conditions

One of the important hiking tips is to check for the conditions you are likely to encounter. So, for your trekking trip, will you need gear to survive the cold or endure the heat

Your Hiking Gear List

This is important in preparing for trekking trips: Make a list of the things you’ll need. Make sure you have the right gear. Your hiking gear list is likely to include hiking boots, backpacks, walking poles, cooking gear, water containers, food, shelter, sunscreen, hat, a map, a compass, etc. 

Know how to use a compass or read a map, if you are relying on these for direction.

Make sure your hiking gear is in working order and you know how to use it

See my guide on backpacking cookware for some lightweight cooking gear suggestions for hiking trips.

It is also important to have the right fitting hiking boots. I know that from experience. I suffered painful black toenails after a day trek because I didn’t research about the importance of fitting shoes correctly when walking downhill. So make sure your have the best fitting hiking shoes for the conditions.

Practice Trail Walking At A Hiking Place Near You

Apart from making sure you have the right hiking gear, you should also try to focus on improving your walking durability leading up to your adventure.

To prepare for long distance walks, start with something easy and short. Build up the distance each time until you are at the stage where you can last the duration of your intended trek. 

It’s a good idea to get into brisk walking to build up endurance and to wear those walking boots in so that you don’t experience blisters or black toe nails on your long distance walks when you eventually go trekking overseas or on walking holidays at home.

For these longer duration hiking trips where you will be walking all day, it is a good idea to start with a mile or so and gradually work up a routine of walking 3 miles a day, increasing that to walking 5 a day, and so on. 

Walking Trails Suited to Those New to Hiking

So where to hike as a beginner? If you are looking to travel away, the following are places suited to hiking for beginners. These would also be good hiking trails for kids if you are looking for a family experience.

This list of where to go hiking ranges from England walking trails to tramping in New Zealand to hiking in Canada. There’s even a trek with wild animals in Africa and a coastal hike through fishing villages of Italy. 

If you are looking for US easy hiking trails, keep scrolling.

1. The Frazer Island Great Walk, Australia

Features: nature trail through sub-tropical forest, crystal-clear lakes, colored sands, and vast sand dunes. The round trip will take 6–8 days walking up to 90 km. There are camping areas for overnight stay.

2. Hadrian’s Wall Path in the UK 

This is one of Walkopedia’s favorite walks.

Features: villages, Roman temples, ‘Robin Hood Tree’, and more. There are 5 day to 11 day hikes covering 44 – 137 km. You can also join a tour for these easy hikes. There are Bed and Breakfast lodgings (B&Bs) and Inns for overnight stays.

3. Wilderness Trails, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Features: walking safari style, the raw wilderness of Kruger National Park. Check availability for 3 – 4 days guided hiking trips of around 42 km. Overnight stays in a camp/hut accommodation

4. Abel Tasman Coast Track, New Zealand

Features: golden sand beaches, Cleopatra’s Pool, a beautiful inlet to Falls River, and a 47-m suspension bridge + fur seals/kekeno. This easy hike of 3 – 5 days covers up to 60 km. Overnight stays include 4 huts and 19 campsites.

5. Hollyford Track, New Zealand

Features: diverse landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife, captivating stories of the original Māori and early pioneers. One of NZ’s good hiking trails for beautiful mountain views. Take a 3 day guided walk of 44 km. Overnight stay in lodge accommodation.

6. Great Walks along Malta and Gozo coasts

Features: historical, cultural, landscape and environmental of these islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Choose between 2 – 35 miles of easy walking – self-guided over 1 – 8 days. Overnight stay in hotels and guest houses.

7. Yoho National Park, Canada

Features: Burgess Shale fossil beds – Trilobites, the stilt-walking Hallucigenia, lake trail, falls, rock formations. Walks of 1 – 2 days up to 55 km (about 34 miles). Overnight stay in rooms at Tea House, private camping, guest houses, or luxury lodges.

8. Cinque Terri, Italy

Features: centuries-old seaside villages, vineyards, sanctuaries, sweeping sea vistas. Choose hikes of one to several days, with the stretch from Manarola to Corniglia (2 km) the easiest to hike. The path network is up to 120 km with varying degrees of ease. You can choose just an easy day walk or a multiple day hike. Overnight stay in village accommodation.

Great Hikes IN The US

The Website Live Once Live Wild provides Complete Guides on the National Parks of Northern America with a list of trails and natural sights to see. It offers information on “off the beaten path backpacking trips, to hidden waterfalls that no one knows about, part of the wonder of exploring our national parks is finding places and treasures that are uniquely your own.” 

Yosemite National Park in Maripos County would have to be one of the most spectacular places in the world to visit if you are looking for easy hiking trails. There are plenty of easy walks to choose from at Yosemite, USA.

Yosemite hiking trails, waterfalls
Waterfall at Yosemite National Park seen from one of the easy hiking trails

The scenery is stunning and you get to choose hikes with waterfalls, glass-like lakes, huge trees, or wildflowers. Some trails are best taken in spring. Some are pet friendly (where pets on leases are allowed).

These are part day walks from half a mile to up to 8 miles with hikes taking between 20 mins to up to 5 hours. 

Lodging is available. You can camp or check into to cabins or lodges, bed and breakfast options or hotels and motels.

More Great Walks

Julia Bradbury and Barry Stone generously illustrate and feature 1,001 scenic walks throughout the world in both natural and urban settings in this huge reference, which includes walks that you can do at your own pace so as to savor local sights. 

1001 Walks You Must Do Before You Die

(Book is available at Amazon – Click image to learn more)

There is an increasing number of trails converted from former canal towpaths and railway lines, like New York’s High Line, into mixed-use walkways. 

It covers numerous routes from coastal to historic trails to those of natural charm, including California’s John Muir Trail, the Miami Beach Art Deco walk, Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke paths in England, the Italian lakes.

The range of walks varies from easy jaunts to more rugged hikes. Each entry provides essential details, including start and finish points, overall distance, difficulty rating, maps, and likely duration.

References

  1. Experimental Biology 2017. “How walking benefits the brain: Researchers show that foot’s impact helps control, increase the amount of blood sent to the brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2017. 

Other Sources

Dwyer T, Pezic A, Sun C, Cochrane J, Venn A, Srikanth V, et al. (2015) Objectively Measured Daily Steps and Subsequent Long Term All-Cause Mortality: The Tasped Prospective Cohort Study. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0141274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141274

Amy A. Hakim, et. al. “Effects of Walking on Mortality among Nonsmoking Retired Men.” New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 338:94-99, January 8, 1998, Number 2.

Tang R, Wang JY, Lo SK, Hsieh LL. “Physical activity, water intake and risk of colorectal cancer in Taiwan: a hospital-based case-control studyInternational Journal of Cancer. 1999 Aug 12;82(4):484-9.

Rozenn N. Lemaitre; David S. Siscovick; Trivellore E. Raghunathan; Sheila Weinmann; Patrick Arbogast; Dan-Yu Lin. “Leisure-Time Physical Activity and the Risk of Primary Cardiac Arrest.” Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999; 159:686-690

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