Enjoying fall foliage at the top of Worcester Mountain in Vermont. Photo: Zach Walbridge
Enjoying fall foliage at the top of Worcester Mountain in Vermont. Photo: Zach Walbridge

There is nothing better than getting out and exploring new trails. These past two years have been challenging to navigate but one silver lining is more people discovering the outdoors. Hiking is easily accessible with a low cost of entry. If you have a trail near you, or a way to get to some trails....boom! You are now hiking!

There are some simple ways to increase the hiking experience and I will provide a few tips along with a couple of my favorite Vermont spots.

The right footwear and socks is important to keep your feet happy. Photo: Zach Walbridge.
The right footwear and socks is important to keep your feet happy. Photo: Zach Walbridge.

1. Invest in the Right Shoes

It is extremely important to have the right footwear when walking in general, but especially for hiking. You can certainly use running shoes, but road shoes won’t offer a lot of traction. Trail running shoes, hiking shoes, or hiking boots will offer the best grip on the trail and will also enhance your experience.

Slipping and losing your footing is never fun and having the right footwear can definitely help. As a trail runner, I have lots of trail shoes, all very specific to different things. My favorite shoes to hike in is the Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid 2. They are extremely soft and comfortable. They offer a GoreTex upper and contagrip megagrip outsole which is super grippy. Shoes matter, and we can certainly help you figure out what might be best for you.

2. Darn Tough Vermont Socks

For all your sock needs, Darn Tough is the way to go - whether it be hiking, running, or every day socks. I absolutely love my Darn Tough array. What makes them different from cotton socks is merino wool. Merino wool is antimicrobial which means they don’t smell and are extremely moisture wicking, helping to prevent blisters.

In addition, the quality of socks that Darn Tough offers along with their lifetime guarantee is worth it. If or when you get a hole in your socks...send them to Darn Tough or go to your local Darn Tough retailer and you can exchange them for a free pair! But don’t expect to exchange them out any time soon - they LAST. On top of that, Darn Tough is located in Vermont (as the name suggests), supporting the local economy. They are always improving their sourced materials, quality and sustainability.

3. Prepare for Weather

It’s extremely important to know what you will be faced against on your hike. What will the weather be like? What will the terrain look like? How long is your hike going to be and what time of day are you going? Always go prepared and remember that weather can change quickly, especially at higher elevation. Even if it’s hot, bring warm clothing and rainwear just in case.

  • Hot Weather: Pack sunscreen, wear a hat and super lightweight clothing. My personal favorite is a Patagonia Cap Cool Lightweight shirt. It breathes extremely well and can always work as a great baselayer for cooler days.

  • Rain: Make sure to bring a rain jacket with you.

  • Cold or Snow: Don’t forget handwarmers, a winter hat, underfoot traction (Kahtoola MicroSpikes are my go-to) and extra layers even if you don’t think you’ll need them.

Something that is super important no matter what the weather is hydration and nutrition. Make sure you have water, Gatorade, or your favorite electrolyte replenisher and plenty of snacks. Some of my favorite snacks are Watermelon Clif Shot Bloks, Honey Stinger Strawberry Waffles, and Triberry Nuun mixed with some water. I also really like bringing trail mix or pretzels as well. Whatever you bring, just make sure it can give you enough fuel!

Finally, tell someone where you are going and have your phone with you with enough charge. In the unlikely event of an emergency it is so important that you are able to contact someone to let them know. And don’t forget a map, headlamp, bug spray and a first aid kit!

Dress for the weather, but be prepared for any changes. Photo: Zach Walbridge.
Dress for the weather, but be prepared for any changes. Photo: Zach Walbridge.

4. Where and When to Hike

Deciding on a hiking spot can sometimes be a tricky or a very easy decision. I have my go-to places, but I also really like checking out new areas. AllTrails is a great app to find trails in your area. You can also ask friends, join some online hiking groups and check out (and support) local organizations that maintain trails - such as the Green Mountain Club in Vermont.

One thing to take into consideration is when to go. More well known or popular hikes will be busier on weekends and parking might be challenging. Seek out those hidden gem hikes that are less well known. Save the popular hikes for during the week or early morning / sunset.

In Vermont, some of my favorite spots are Rock Point in Burlington, Catamount in Williston, Colchester Pond in Colchester, Shelburne Bay and Sterling Pond in Stowe. These are all great easy day hike spots. I also really like Camels Hump and Mount Mansfield when I want to get a bit more of a workout in. These spots are also day hike locations but will take a bit longer than the others.

5. Have Fun!

The most important tip of them all is to have fun and enjoy the time outside whether it be alone, with friends or family. Take in the fresh air and escape the craziness of the world we live in. I can almost guarantee you will not have a bad time hiking. Unless you happen to fall in mud or in a pond....but still, that could be pretty fun. Time away from the world is much needed.

And remember, you can still have fun and follow the rules. Know the guidelines of the trail system and state you are in, be nice, follow any leash laws and leave no trace.

- Clarke Shedd,
Skirack Run Specialist
Click here to learn more about Clarke

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