Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania™

Hiking Tips



Using Trekking Poles While Hiking

Some hikers never venture out on the trail without trekking poles, while other hikers think they are a waste of money. Personally I feel that trekking poles are an essential piece of hiking gear, especially on longer, multi-day hikes. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your trekking poles.

  • Adjust to you - When gripping the poles, your forearms should be parallel with the ground, with your elbow making a 90 degree angle.
  • Adjust for the terrain - If you are on a steep incline, shorten the poles and plant them the same time you take a step. For downhills, lengthen the poles and plant them just prior to your foot hitting the ground.
  • Check your adjustments - As you hike, especially across softer ground, you may find your poles shrinking on you as the sections loosen. You should stop and tighten your poles, if needed, about once an hour while hiking.
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Winter Hiking And Snowshoeing

With the winter months and the snow comes to opportunity to get out and do some winter hiking and/or snowshoeing. One thing that I enjoy about winter hiking when compared to hiking during the other seasons is experiencing the quiet and serenity of snow-covered landscapes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you venture out on a snowshoeing excursions:

  • Check your gear before you head out. This is good advice year round, but especially important in the winter when the temperatures are cold and the environment is harsh.
  • Take frequent breaks and remember to hydrate. In the winter you typically aren't aware of the obvious signs of perspiring, but you still need to take time and replace your fluids.
  • If snowshoeing with others, take turns breaking the trail as this is the most tiring part of snowshoeing. If you happen to have a person that is extra energetic and wants to hike fast, let them take the lead. But also keep in mind the slowest person hiking with you and remember to stop frequently and allow them to catch up.
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Tips For Hiking With Kids

A successful hike with kids starts by making the outing an adventure. You can look for discoveries along the way by bringing a magnifying glass and stopping frequently to view what the forest has to offer. Teach kids to be good observers by looking for signs of wildlife such as claw scratches on tree trunks, bird holes in dead trees or animal tracks. When choosing a trail to hike, pick one with features that interest kids as destinations or turnaround spots such as vistas, streams, or waterfalls. Also, make sure to put yourself in their boots. Their legs are shorter than yours and take many more steps during the hike. You should let the kids set the pace and call for rest stops before they ask for them.
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Keep Your Bearings While Hiking

Moss grows on the north side of a tree. Well, I’ve been in some dark, damp sections of the woods where moss was growing on all sides of the tree. When the moss can’t help you get your bearings, here are few other tips to keep in mind.

  • Pine trees/evergreens are the fulliest on eastern slopes.
  • Plants and brush are more open on northern slopes, smaller and denser on southern slopes.
  • The tops of hemlocks point east.

Always take a map with you when you hike. Look at the map for terrain features and relate them to those around you such as ravines, cliffs, hollows, and hilltops.

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Tips For Fording Streams

The need to ford a stream is more typical in the spring then hiking during other times of the year. Certain precautions should be taken to minimize the risks while crossing a stream. If you find yourself on a stream bank, without any easy way to cross, keep these tips in mind before plunging in.

  • Look for a wide section to cross. Water moves quickly in narrower areas of the stream.
  • Take your time. Walk deliberately, making sure of your footing after each step.
  • Don’t take off your boots. Traction from boots or camp shoes are much better than bare feet. However, take off your socks and put them back on once you’ve crossed.
  • If you don’t have treking poles, pick up a stick or two. This will give you better balance while crossing.
  • Loosen shoulder straps and hip belts on your pack before attempting the crossing. This will make it easier to slip out of your pack if you happen to fall in.
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