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Hiking How To

Have you ever wondered how to ford a river, read the clouds or hike with trekking poles? Our expert resources will teach you the ins and outs of hiking in Washington. From hike planning to gear tips, find
 an interesting topic and learn something new today.

Hike Planning

How to use WTA's Hiking GuideHow to Use WTA's Hiking Guide

Our online Hiking Guide is full of great information about thousands of trails across the state. With so many options, it can be daunting to find that perfect trail. We can help you find what you're looking for and get the most out of each hiking guide entry.

backpack-main.jpgHow to Use a My Backpack Account

A My Backpack account will unlock all of the features WTA has to offer and make your hikes more enjoyable.

Passes and Permits BannerHow to Use Passes and Permits

Passes and permits are a reality of hiking in Washington, and they help ensure a quality hiking experience.

How to Read Hiking & Topo MapsHow to Read Hiking & Topo Maps

Understanding the basic elements of a hiking map can empower you to stay found and travel safely.

How to Pre-PackHow to Pre-Pack

Pre-packing your hiking gear allows you to get out the door on time with all of the essentials you need.

How to Park Like a ProHow to Park Like a Pro

Consider how others are going to be able to get around your parked vehicle before you head off on trail.

Forest Road.jpgHow to Drive Forest Roads

Forest roads can be... rough. But with some thoughtful driving, we can make them a bit more bearable.

How to Make a Perfect Hiking Plan

How to Make a Perfect Hiking Plan

No matter how modest or ambitious your hiking goals, a good plan is the key to helping you achieve them.

How to Craft Your Own Hiking LoopsHow to Craft Your Own Hiking Loops

By connecting existing trails or forest roads, you can create a one-of-kind loops that are perfect for you.

How to Research Lesser Traveled TrailsHow to Research Lesser Traveled Trails

These tips can help sleuth out current trail conditions when recent trip reports can't be found.

Safety & Trail Smarts

How to Leave No TraceHow to Leave No Trace

One of the easiest ways to protect the trails and natural places you love is leave those places untouched by your visit. Whether you're close to home or deep in the backcountry, practice the following seven guidelines to reduce your impact.

How to Hike with DogsHow to Hike with Dogs

From choosing dog-friendly hikes to keeping your pup safe, we'll prepare you and your dog for a great hike.

How to Poop in the WoodsHow to Poop in the Woods

Part of being a good trail steward is knowing where and how to go. Use these tips to make it easy.

How to Hike in the RainHow to Hike in the Rain

Tips for planning a rainy-day hike and staying safe (and dry) while you're on the trail.

How to Navigate Water CrossingsHow to Cross Waterways

Crossing streams or rivers can seem intimidating, but these tips will help make your next crossing a safe one.

How to Care for FeetHow to Care for Feet

Learn how to prevent the issues we can and to treat the issues we encounter on trail.

Burned forest through the Pasayten. Photo by Rachel Wendling.jpgHow to Hike in a Burned Forest

Tips and guidelines for staying safe from the hazardous of falling trees and branches.

tent tatoosh yuriy garnaev.jpegHow to Measure Distances on Trail

Measure distances on trail is a small but handy skill that can help you care for the land while you hike.

Bearberry Trail. Photo by Mark Okubo..jpg

How to Avoid Poisonous Plants

Poisonous plants should not rank high on your list of concerns, you should be aware of the most common types.

How to Stay Cool on TrailHow to Keep Cool on Trail

Our collection of time-tested tips will help you beat the heat and stay safe while hiking in the height of summer.

How to Stay HydratedHow to Stay Hydrated

When the summer hiking season turns hot or dry, staying adequately hydrated on trail can be a challenge.

How to Find Your PaceHow to Find Your Pace

Your hiking pace will help you estimate the miles you can expect to cover in your desired time frame.

How to Avoid InjuriesHow to Avoid Injuries

As you ramp up your hiking, be aware of common aches and pains that could lead to bigger problems. 

How to Stay Sure FootedHow to Stay Sure Footed

You can't control the environment, but there are ways to become more sure-footed when you hike.

An avalanche danger map from the Northwest Avalanche Center.How to Avoid Avalanches

When snow blankets the mountains, terrain that used to be harmless can pose new dangers like avalanches.

to the island.jpgHow to Swim Safely in Cold Water

If you want to take an alpine lake dip, you’ll want to keep safety and some basic tips in mind.

How to Move MindfullyHow to Move Mindfully While Volunteering

Before you head out to your next work party, use these tips to minimize the risk of an overuse injury

How to Start Nature JournalingHow to Start Nature Journaling

We share some ideas to help you start documenting time spent on trail or even in the backyard.

How to Think AheadHow to Think Ahead

Future-proof your hikes by preparing ahead of time and thinking through risks.

How to Read CloudsHow to Read the Clouds

Learn about clouds you’re likely to see while hiking, and what they can tell you about conditions.


Window Lacing -5.JPGHow to Lace Your Boots

Sore feet are one of the top complaints of hikers and backpackers. If you’ve ever experienced pain, pressure or blisters after a walk in the woods, consider trying out one of these alternative lacing methods.

How to Choose a BackpackHow to Choose a Backpack

A comfortable pack can make all the difference in how much you enjoy your time on trail.

How to Choose FootwearHow to Choose Footwear

We take a look at some of the most popular hiking footwear options — boots, shoes and minimalist footwear.

How to Build a First Aid KitHow to Build a First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is one of the Ten Essentials you should always take on a hike.

How to Rent or Borrow GearHow to Borrow or Rent Gear

One of the best things about hiking is that it doesn't take a lot of money or specialized gear.

How to Dress for Rainy DaysHow to Dress for Rainy Days

There are so many options for rain gear. How do you choose the best for any particular situation?

Four hikers stand around a backcountry stove that's cooking dinner.How to Pick and Use Your Stove

Food tastes good after a day of hiking, but first you need to cook it.

How to Layer in the WinterHow to Layer in the Winter

Once you get your layering system down, you'll be ready for (nearly) anything.

How to Choose TractionHow to Choose Traction

We break down a few popular traction options and where they can slot into your next shoulder-season adventure.

How to Hike with Trekking PolesHow to Hike with Trekking Poles

Poles can be a valuable addition to your hiking gear. Here's why — and some advice on how to use them 

How to Keep Gear Dry on Rainy DaysHow to Keep Gear Dry on Rainy Days

These tips will help you keep your gear and clothing dry so you can hike in comfort year-round.

Backpacking and Camping

How to Choose a Backcountry CampsiteHow to Choose a Backcountry Campsite

If you have to set up camp at the end of a day on trail, do you know what you're looking for? How well do you know your Leave No Trace principles? These tips can help you identify the perfect place to pitch your tent.

How to Safely Have a FireHow to Safely Have a Fire

Learn how to prevent wildfires, manage your campfire, and how to check the status of current wildfires.

How to Store Your FoodHow to Store Your Food

To reduce unwanted bear-human interactions, you need to keep human food away from wildlife. 

How to Choose a Sleeping QuiltHow to Choose a Sleeping Quilt

Interested in switching from a traditional sleeping bag to a quilt? Here are some things to consider.

How to Fix Tent WoesHow to Fix Tent Woes

Here are tips to overcome the most common challenges you’re likely to face while backpacking or camping.

How to Backpack With a Baby

How to Backpack With a Baby

It takes planning and some extra weight, but it’s worth the effort to share the joy of the outdoors with your little one.

How to Brew Delicious Backcountry CoffeeHow to Brew Delicious Backcountry Coffee

Because coffee tastes even better when enjoyed from a cozy camp or first-rate alpine view.

How to Explore the Winter Night SkyHow to Explore the Night Sky in Winter

Winter’s lack of daylight does provide one fun opportunity: the chance to enjoy great views of the night sky.