Hiking 101

Hiking 101

Going on a hike soon and don’t know what to expect or can’t remember all of the things you need to bring? Don’t fret! Below your will find some tips about hiking prep and packing so you will have all of the tools you need for an awesome trek!

Pre-hike prep:

  • Pick a trail – Most trails are rated for their difficulty and length. Before you head out on a trail, check the trail’s website to see how long the trail is, the average time to complete the trail, the elevation change, and the level of difficulty, to ensure the trail meets your hiking goals.
  • Find a map of your trail – Most parks and trails will have trail maps available online. Print out a map before you go so that you have directions if the trails are not clearly marked or in case you lose cell signal.
  • Research where to park, park entrance fees, and park hours before you go. Some parks open at a certain time but, due to popularity, close once they hit capacity. Most hiking trails will tell you the optimal hours to arrive at the park. Additionally, while more and more parks are taking cards, some are still cash only, so be prepared to pay the park fee either way so you aren’t turned away at the gates!

What to bring on your hike:

  • Packable backpack – A good bag to carry extras is essential to any trip. A packable backpack fits easily into any suit case or car pocket, has supportive, padded straps for comfort, and has extra pockets for water bottles and other necessities you don’t want to hold by hand. My backpack (shown below) folds up to be about 5×6 inches:

  • Water bottles – Swell or Hydro Flask bottles are great. Not only do they look cool (no pun intended), they keep your water cold for hours and hours so you can be refreshed while in the heat.
  • A hat and UV protected sun glasses – Make sure your sunnies stay on when you tilt your head back and forth. You will be looking at the ground a bunch so you don’t want a pair that constantly slips down your face.
  • Hiking boots – Along with a good pair of socks, shoes are the most important part of a hike. Invest in a good pair with support, ventilation, and decent grip. REI is a great place to go try on boots with some expert help, but you can find a bunch of options on Amazon with rave reviews. If you are going on a hike and can’t buy a new pair of shoes right now, wear sneakers with a lot of tread and ankle support.
  • Hiking socks – Investing in a decent pair of socks will prevent painful blisters down the road. REI has comfy and soft hiking socks that come with either high and low tops and will keep your toes warm without blister discomfort. If you are still nervous about blisters on a long hike, check out BodyGlide. I use it when I go on long runs (8-20 milers) and it prevents blisters wherever you feel a chafe. Also, if you are going into grassy areas, wear higher socks and long pants so you don’t get dirt, bugs, or poison ivy on your legs.

  • Protein bars for extra energy – No one wants to hike on an empty stomach! If you are going for over an hour, bring a healthy snack, high in protein and  / or healthy carbs, to pick you up. My favorite are Quest bars, especially the white chocolate raspberry and cookies and cream flavors, almonds, and apples.
  • Bug spray – A must if you are a mosquito magnet like I am!
  • Band aids or a small first aid kit – Target has a bunch of travel sized first-aid kits with a little of everything you may need.
  • Camera / phone for pictures – Don’t forget your selfie stick! You may also want to bring a portable phone charger just in case.
  • A light and comfortable jacket – Just in case it gets cool
  • Umbrella – Check your local weather before you go to make sure you don’t have any rainy surprises!

Have questions? Feel free to comment them below. If not, happy hiking!

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Denver To-Do List

Denver To-Do List

As I am sure you have heard, there is so much to do in and around Denver, Colorado! From the thrill of skiing to the amazing views found on the trails, exhilarating white water rafting to relaxing at a brewery, there are so many options and nailing down your exact itinerary can be a little overwhelming, which is why this post is here to help!

There are two main types of Denver vacations – warm and cold weather. If you are going in winter to ski outside of Denver, I recommend renting a 4-wheel drive car, planning for extra-traffic through the mountains going to the airport on our way home, and checking out my ski-trip packing list and skiing 101. If going in warmer weather, check out the below:

Things to do in downtown Denver:

  • Breweries, breweries, and more breweries – There are 4 of the top 50 breweries in the US located in Denver and many breweries within walking distance of each other. We went to Hogshead and the Denver Brewing Company. Not only did the Denver Brewing Company have an awesome patio and great beer, they were having a block party when we went. There were tons of games, other vendors and food trucks giving out freebies, and tons of adorable dogs since the whole place is very dog friendly.

Denver Brewing Company

  • Go to a Rockies baseball game at Coor’s Stadium – Coor’s Stadium has a super cool top deck bar area great for socializing, grabbing some drinks, and enjoying the game in a “sports bar” type of vibe but at the stadium itself! If you do not want to go into the stadium, check out Viewhouse – a huge bar across the street with a giant rooftop patio, outdoor lawn game area, cabanas, and awesome food and drinks.
  • The Denver Modern Art Museum – The Art museum is 5 floors and spans over two buildings connected by a sky bridge. It has a diverse mix of modern and historical artifacts and you can spend about 2-3 hours there easily.

  • Shopping – Feeling in the mood for a little shopping but don’t want to spend such a nice day indoors? Check out the Denver Pavilions outdoor mall in downtown for an open, outdoor shopping experience.
  • Check out the food co-op for lunch or dinner – Trying to find a restaurant with indecisive people or ones with conflicting opinions on cuisine can be tough. Luckily, Denver is home to the Avanti Food Court which has 7 different eateries, 2 bars, and indoor and outdoor seating, to greatly satisfy any wants or needs!

Things to do within an hour of Denver:

  • Red Rocks Amphitheater – The Red Rock Amphitheater is a concert venue tucked into giant red rock outcroppings about 45 minutes away from Denver. Not only can you see awesome concerts there, you can do yoga in the theater and there are tons of awesome hiking trails that provide insane views!
  • Go for a hike – Day Hikes Near Denver is a great resource for finding the perfect hike for you. It outlines the trail maps, details what the trails are like from difficulty level, time it takes to complete the trails, elevation changes, scenic stops, and proximity to Denver city. You can even see George Washington’s sleeping face (See below)! Additionally, check out my recommendations for a hiking packing list to keep you prepared wherever you go.

Arrowhead Golf Course in Littleton, Colorado

  • White water rafting & ziplining – Just about 35 minutes away from downtown Denver, there are multiple place to raft down the exhilarating rapids and zipline in adventure parks.
  • Stand up paddling or kayaking – There are quite a few manmade lakes, reservoirs, and ponds with beaches to relax on and water to sport in. Check this out to for the top 10 places to water sport outside of Denver.

With so much to do, especially a bit outside of Denver, I recommend renting a car so that you do not rack up a huge ride-sharing bill. You will have a lot more flexibility to go to and from your points of interest with a rental car but, of course, if you are doing a lot more partying in downtown and are not venturing out too far, drive responsibly or get a ride-share.

There are so many options for fun in Denver, what will you choose?!

Hiking through Roxborough State Park, Colorado