A Simple Guide for New Hikers

Hiking is one of the most rewarding hobbies out there. Getting started can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. With this guide, it won’t be.


Hiking consistently ranks among the top activities that bring people into the Meetup community. In fact, there are more than 12,500,000 members in over 7,000 Meetup hiking groups around the world! If you’re interested in outdoor adventures near and far, you’re not alone.

In addition to the rugged camaraderie that’s waiting to be discovered on the trail, there are so many physical and mental benefits to picking up hiking as a hobby. But like other active hobbies, it can be a bit intimidating to get started if you’ve never been hiking before, or you’re a few years removed from your last excursion. 

With this simple start guide, you won’t need any more convincing to go explore the great outdoors. 

What hiking can do for you 

Maybe the most obvious benefit of hiking is the physical exertion that will help keep you fit. You can find everything from simple hikes that help you reach your daily step-count goal to advanced hikes with significant elevation gains and scrambling that will challenge your strength and cardio. 

Whatever your level, that physical activity will also contribute to stress relief and an improved mood overall. You’ve probably heard of the runner’s high before. The hiker’s high can be just as potent, combining the endorphin release of your physical exertion with the calming effects of peace and quiet, sunshine, and beautiful views of the natural world.  

Topping it all off, hiking provides the perfect background for connecting with friends both new and old. It’s an engaging activity, but it’s not so absorbing that you can’t chat while you’re doing it. Everyone will be in good spirits from the hiker’s high. When you leave the trail, you’ll feel like you really accomplished something together, which creates stronger bonds. A recent Meetup Live recording features hiking group organizers from across the globe discussing the phenomenon of hiker hangouts and why they’re such a good method for making friends. 

Tips for beginner hikers 

You won’t be a beginner for long if you follow these basic steps. The first thing you ought to do is get equipped for hiking: think less ropes and carabiners and more water and bug spray. Use this list as a starting point: 

  • Comfortable and supportive footwear 
  • Clothes that aren’t too restrictive  
  • A reusable water bottle and an easily portable snack  
  • A crossbody bag or backpack that you can dedicate to hiking (it will get dirty) 
  • Sun protection: hat, sunglasses, sunscreen  
  • Cash for trail parking or park passes  
  • Basic first-aid supplies: bandaids, alcohol wipes, gauze 

When you’re ready to start, find a hike that matches your level. If you’re a true beginner, you could opt for something with limited elevation change, a well-trafficked trail, and lower distance. Some good resources for deciding what’s right for you are digital guides on Alltrails as well as printed guides for your area. Some upcoming beginner to moderate hiking events on Meetup include a birdwatching walk in Chicago’s Dan Ryan Woods, a suburban hike through SoCal’s Hermosa Beach, and a 2-mile hike on the Sullivan’s Island Nature Trail just off the coast of Charleston.  

Find your hiking crew 

Hiking with at least one buddy is easier, safer, and more rewarding! You’re less likely to get lost, and more likely to have fun adding a social layer to your outdoor experience. If you join a hike with a few people or more, you can be sure to meet people at various levels of hiking experience, and learn about local trails you’ve never tried. Plus, the group aspect helps you stay motivated to go that extra mile and achieve your fitness goals. 

You don’t have to wait around for the perfect hiking community to cross your path: you have the power to make your own perfect hiking community. It’s quick and easy to create a Meetup group and invite people to join you on an excursion. 

Just get going 

It’s better to start sooner with a simple outing than wait for an invite and have your first hike end up being a difficult one. Pick a beginner trail near you and go for it. When you’re out there, enjoy yourself. Take some moments to breathe in the fresh air deeply, notice the plants and wildlife, and feel your connection to the planet. And always remember: leave no trace.

Find events, join groups, and communicate with your people—from anywhere. Download the Meetup app today!

Last modified on November 8, 2022