Hiking Off Trail
Think you’ve seen it all on your hiking adventures? Not until you’ve tried hiking off trail. If you’re tired of sticking to the same path as everyone else and want to experience something new and exciting, then trying your hand (or foot) at off-trail hiking could be the way forward. Off-trail hiking is the process of leaving the beaten track and delving into less travelled areas, such as remote woodland or mountains. Below, we’ve created the essential guide to hiking off trail, so you can feel confident in your abilities and make the most of nature – without getting lost!
Benefits Of Hiking Off Trail
So you’ve made the decision to experience the great outdoors to the extreme and attempt to hike off trail. But what makes it such an exciting decision and why should you try it? The benefits of hiking off trail include seeing parts of nature that most members of the public will never get to see, such as different types of animals, unusual plants and foliage, and breath-taking views. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment that you’ve managed to plan and complete a route, which not many people have before. Ensuring that you stay safe over rough terrain or crawling under rocks and jumping over branches will provide you with a great feeling that nearly anything is possible. You’ll have seen beautiful scenery and landscapes that are usually remote and shut-off from the rest of the world. Experiencing this kind of hiking makes you more appreciative of the natural environment and more likely to respect what Mother Nature has to offer.
It’s also a great opportunity to try your hand at navigating without a GPS system or map. Although it’s essential that you take these with you, walking without knowing where you’re going or where you’ll end up, provides you with a sense of freedom and calm. There are also so many different types of environments that you can explore, so the possibilities really are endless. Whether you’re looking for a waterfall, mountain, or dense forest, nature is out there and needs discovering. Off trail hiking is great for your mental health too, providing you with time to take everything in and simply be in the moment of losing yourself off the beaten track.
Equipment To Take With You
Preparation is key when hiking off trail and although it would be nice just to go wandering off into the wilderness, you need to have some guidance and advice behind you, to ensure that everything goes to plan and you can return safely. This is why it’s important to pack the right equipment. Here’s a list of some of the essential items you should take with you:
- Paper map, compass and electronic GPS
- Sunscreen, cap, and sunglasses, even if you doubt they’ll be sunshine
- Robust hiking shoes, for those rocky terrains, as well as thick hiking socks to ensure your feet are protected and you don’t end up with blisters
- Basic first aid kit, including bug repellent, plasters, and sting cream
- Extra layers and a waterproof jacket
- A pen knife or multi-functional too, that allows you to cut through things
- Torch or headlamp, in case you wander off to far and end up doing a spot of night hiking
- Enough food for the amount of time you’ll be walking, as well as extras for emergencies
- A source of heat or something to create a fire, either for cooking or warmth
Things To Consider When Hiking Off-Trail
Although the benefits of hiking off-trail are vast, you still need to be aware of the risks and take into consideration things that could go wrong, as with all hiking trips. Ensure you know you route before heading out and provide someone you trust with your journey plan, so they can contact the authorities should anything happen to you. Even if you know your route like the back of your hand, hiking off trail means that you should expect the unexpected, so be aware that wildlife and flooding are potential dangers and not ones to be taken lightly. Try not to go hiking off the beaten path on your own. Similar to hiking in the dark, it’s better to go with a companion or two, who’ll provide some great company, as well as keep track on where you’re going, so the responsibility lies with everyone. Remember that walking on unknown terrain means that you’re probably going to encounter mud, rocks, water, and steep hills, so invest well in a pair of quality hiking shoes and hiking socks. You’ll be thankful by the end of your journey or when you’ve reached the top of that summit, that you won’t have aching or sore feet. Ensure you stay respectful of your surroundings too and don’t damage terrain unnecessarily.
When walking off trail, you’re crossing over into the wildlife’s territory, so make sure you leave things as you find them; take your rubbish home with you and try not to disturb the environment too much when you need to make a fire or pitch a tent. Read up on where you’re heading out to as well, in case it’s illegal to camp or walk. One key consideration when hiking off trail is to make sure you don’t panic. This is why it’s so great to go as a group, rather than solo walker. When you panic, your judgement is clouded and you won’t know the most sensible steps to take, so simply stop, take in your surroundings, retrace your steps if you can, try and remember what’s around you, and use your GPS or map to help you get back to where you need to be. It’s okay to take a helping hand when hiking off trail; this is why thorough planning and preparation are key to a successful hike, helping you grow in confidence for your next journey.
- How To Not Get Lost While Hiking: Tips, Gear, And Apps For Getting Home Safe – The Manual
- Master Class: Off-Trail Hiking – Backpacker
- An Intro To Off-Trail Hiking – Love The Outdoors