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Hiking 101

There are many reasons to go hiking: connecting with nature, getting in shape, bonding with friends and family. From choosing the right equipment to wearing the right shoes to finding a hike, there’s a lot to think about before hitting the trail for the first time. This guide is meant to answer your many questions so you can explore the outdoors safely and confidently.

Hikers have many reasons for exploring the wilderness. For some, it's a way to escape the stresses of modern life and reconnect with nature. For others, its a favorite way to stay in shape or connect with family. For many, it's a combination of all of these things, and for all it's a favorite way to spend a day off.

If you're ready to discover the joys of hiking for yourself, these pages will help guide you through finding your first hikes, buying and bringing the right gear, staying safe and having good back-country manners. See you on the trail!


Hikers Mt Rainier sq

Part 1: Choosing the Right Hike

How to build fitness, confidence and experience without getting injured or burning out. Learn more.



Hiking bootsPart 2: Selecting Clothing and Gear

What you need, what you don't and a couple things you might want to bring along. Learn more.



Northwest Forest Pass 150Part 3: Hiking Etiquette, Safety and Permits

Some keys to staying safe on the trail, plus a guide to hiking etiquette and what passes you need. Learn more.

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More hikes » Hike of the Week
Diablo Lake Trail (Apr 17)

Diablo Lake

North Cascades

Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.