4 Hiking Tips for Beginners

Staff Writerfort collins, tips and tricks, travel

beginner hiking tips

Undoubtedly one of the best parts about going to Colorado State University and living in Fort Collins is the environment. Here, you are within just a few hours of some of the most beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. And what better way to go out and explore than with a bit of hiking? 

Hiking can be intimidating, especially for beginners. But it also happens to be one of the easiest outdoors activities to take part in. Hiking offers great exercise and walking through nature has been shown to provide big mental health benefits for people of all ages. And we think this is especially true for college students needing a break from their studies and work — students basically needing a recharge. While you will find plenty of places to relax here at the Cottages of Fort Collins, such as in the pool or at the gaming room, going out and immersing yourself in nature has unique advantages. 

That said, going into the backcountry or even on what may seem like a routine hike shouldn’t be done without some preparation and gear. There are plenty of stories about how even the most experienced of hikers have gotten lost on short hikes. Like Amanda Eller who was lost for 17 days after getting turned around on what should have been an hour-long hike. Such cases are rare, but they aren’t impossible. Make sure you are prepared to have the best time hiking the Colorado countryside by following these beginner hiking tips:

4 Hiking Tips for Beginners to Enjoy the Best Outdoors Near Cottages of Fort Collins

  • Start with beginner hikes. Even if you’re a top athlete, it’s best not to overdo it on your first hike out in the mountains. The high altitude of the mountains themselves, not to mention the amount of elevation changes on the hike, can take even the most seasoned athletes by surprise. We recommend picking a five-mile or less trail to begin and one with minimal elevation changes. Online resources like AllTrails and GaiaGPS are great for helping you choose trails. 
  • Get the right gear. Hikes may be walks, but they aren’t your typical walk around the city. Wearing jeans and heavy cotton shirts can often be a poor choice as they get heavy and chafey when wet. Choose instead wicking workout clothes such as the ones you might wear to the onsite fitness center. Also shoes, shoes are very important. Don’t go overboard with expensive, heavy-duty hiking boots until you really know the type of terrain you enjoy hiking in. Instead, stick simply with a solid pair of sneakers or trail runners that have good tread and a comfortable insole. 
  • Let someone know your plans (and consider bringing a buddy). Whether you go hiking solo or with a friend, it is always a good idea to tell a roommate or other person where you are going and when you expect to be back by. This way if something happens and you can’t get in contact with anyone, they will know to send help and where. Hiking alone is a great experience, but some people might not be comfortable doing new hikes alone. That’s okay! There are a ton of Meetup groups and hiking and outdoor clubs that are always eager for new people to join in on group events. Or, if you want to hike by yourself but don’t want to feel like the only person on a trail, choose a popular trail and go morning or late afternoon when others are sure to be on it. 
  • Have more than a smartphone. Smartphones are wonderful devices whose GPS systems have gotten a lot of people out of a lot of jams. But they aren’t infallible. For great experiences outdoors, you should utilize a combination of electronic and paper navigation so that if one fails — no service, broken screen, etc. — you will have the other. For paper navigation, print out an online hiking guide and map or take a book with that information with you on the trail. Practice hiking with only the map to get an idea of how distances translate from paper to real world. Mark up your print-outs and have fun with it. If you keep a bullet or creative journal, this type of thing is perfect for adding to a unique event page. 

You Can Also Stay Active Here On-Site

We are lucky to get so many sunny days here in Colordo, but sometimes the weather does get bad. Sometimes, you’d rather stick close to home. On those days for when you’d rather be here but still want to be active, you have plenty of onsite options at the Cottages of Fort Collins. Whether it’s swimming in the pool or jumping rope at the fitness center, we like to think there’s something for every type of active individual. If you have any questions about using the onsite facilities, don’t hesitate to ask our front desk!