Mistakes Beginner Hikers Make and How to Avoid Them

March 21, 2023

Hiking is a fantastic way to explore the great outdoors, get some exercise, and connect with nature. However, for those new to this adventurous activity, there are some common mistakes that can lead to a less-than-enjoyable experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore four common beginner hiker mistakes and offer advice on how to avoid them. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying safe, memorable hikes, expanding your experience and skills in the great outdoors. 

Mistakes Beginner Hikers Make and How to Avoid Them:

A Comprehensive Guide for a Safe and Enjoyable Hiking Experience


One of the most common mistakes beginner hikers make is overestimating their abilities, which can lead to higher risks, injuries, unecessary rescues, and overall negative experiences. It’s important to start small and set achievable goals, gradually building up your hiking skills and endurance.

To avoid this mistake, research the trail you plan to hike, and ensure it matches your current experience and fitness level. Utilize online resources such as hiking forums, Hiking Project, or AllTrails to find suitable trails for your skill level, and consider hiring a guide or joining a guided hiking group to learn from more experienced hikers. 


Another mistake new hikers often make is not testing their gear before hitting the trail. This can lead to discomfort, blisters, turning around early, faulty gear, items not fitting properly, and even not knowing how to use your gear.

To prevent these issues, take the time to test out your gear before you go on a hike. Try on your hiking boots and walk around them on short trails to break them in and ensure they fit right. Pitch your tent in the backyard. Practice filtering water in your sink first. Cook with your stove in a controlled environment before stepping out into the wild. Familiarize yourself with any navigation tools or safety equipment you’ll be carrying, even your first aid kit! And make sure your pack can fit everything you need to bring. 

Making sure your gear functions correctly and identifying any issues prior to your trip is a vital step in the planning process. By doing this, you’ll be more comfortable and confident when you do hit the trail.


Packing at the last minute can lead to a variety of problems, including forgetting emergency supplies or essential items, leaving late, being unprepared, and not bringing enough food or water for your trip. To avoid these issues, pack your backpack the day before your trip, or even earlier if you want to be ahead of the game!

Create a checklist of everything you will need for your adventure, including clothing, food, emergency supplies (eg. the 10 essentials), and any necessary permits or reservations. Double-check this list as you pack to make sure you don’t forget anything important. Another nice thing about packing ahead of time, is it will always give you the opportunity to check the weather forecast and adjust your gear accordingly, setting you up for success on your trip.

“More and more explorers are heading out unprepared and running into trouble, warn officials and rescuers. Mountain rescue teams and the National Park Service are warning hikers to take extra care when exploring the backcountry due to a surge in calls to walkers in distress.”

                    – Cat Ellis, Journalist for Advnture.


Heading out on a hike unprepared, or without the proper knowledge and skills necessary can lead to getting lost, greater risk of injury, and damage to natural ecosystems. To avoid these issues, invest time in researching your intended trail, learning about the local wildlife and plants that inhabit the area, and understanding Leave No Trace principle.

Consider taking some classes or workshops on hiking, wilderness first aid, and navigation. Booking a guided hiking group is an excellent way to learn from an experienced hiker and gain the skills you need to enjoy your adventures safely. 

Hiking is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise, but it’s essential to do it safely and responsibly. As a beginner hiker, it’s easy to make mistakes, but by following these tips and avoiding common pitfalls, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors. Remember to start small, test your gear, pack early, and be prepared with the necessary skills and knowledge. With these tips in mind, you can confidently embark on your hiking journey and make the most out of your time on the trail. If you want to really level up your skills, I’d love to take you on a guided hike! Learn more about my guided trips here

Let me know if you have any questions! Happy adventuring 🙂 


Read next: 10 Things the Wilderness Has Taught Me 

Hi there! I’m Shelby, a
Colorado hiking guide!

I’m here to inspire you to climb your mountain from the ground UP.
I’m an avid hiker and backpacker, and also love camping, fishing, and anything else I can do outdoors, even if it means going alone! I believe nature is the best teacher of all, and I find joy sharing this knowledge so you can feel empowered on your own adventures! 

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