Hiking: 5 Tips To Get Trail Ready

So you want to start hiking??

More people are getting out on the hiking trail these days, but most aren’t sure where or how to get started… I know because I was once there too.

Switchback Direct Physical Therapy in Idaho isn’t your father’s physical therapy clinic. Our mission isn’t simply to fix pain or injury, but to help people get ready for their next adventure faster.

Sometimes, this means helping people that aren’t in pain, but want to safely prepare themselves for upcoming activities like a big hiking or backpacking trip.

This can be for people who have experience with hiking, but haven’t been active for a while. Other times these are people completely new to outdoor adventures like I was.

I’m a mid-westerner. Born and raised in the flat-lands of Illinois. I didn’t grow up hiking mountain trails, camping in national parks, and had no idea what backpacking was.

My first trip my wife and I took together to the Grand Teton National Park, we were mesmerized by the beauty of the park. We decided to “go for a walk.”

We had an old book bag, a Powerade each, a protein bar, tennis shoes, and not a clue.

We enjoyed our little “walk” in the mountains (got rained on for about 20 minutes in our t-shirts and shorts) for about 4 miles before starting to think… we’re getting a little hungry. That’s when this nice older, and much more experienced, hiking couple crossed our path.

Right when we were thinking about turning around they informed us that about another mile up the trail there was a big Bull Moose! My wife and I looked at each other with excitement, and decided “eh, what’s another mile? We’ve never seen a moose before.”

Well I’m happy to report that we did end up finding the moose and it was awesome! Our first moose! (Got a pretty good pic of the big guy too)…

Our First Moose!

Unfortunately, we were about out of anything to drink, we had no more food, and had a 4-5 mile “walk” back to the truck.

By the end, we were dehydrated, hungry, sore, cramps, and downright exhausted. The days to follow weren’t a picnic either. My wife had huge blisters on her feet which made it hard to even stand and the soreness seemed to multiply by the day.

We were lucky we came out of our misadventure relatively unscathed, but we certainly learned some hard lessons that day.

That experience also led me to where I am today with the mission to help other outdoor enthusiasts to not only get out of pain, but help prepare them for their next adventure.

So how does one get started with hiking without the mishaps that we experienced, or worse?

Here are our top 5 tips for anyone planning to head out on the hiking trails…

1. Equipment: Here is a list of my bare minimum…Make sure you have the right gear, and that it is in good repair. The biggest things to make sure you have are a good pair of hiking boots, hiking pack (I recommend with a water bladder), trekking poles/hiking stick.

Other additional items may be necessary depending where you’re going. Things like a first aid kit is never a bad idea, bear spray if in bear country, etc. This list is not all inclusive, but a minimum for a day hike and to keep you a happy hiker.

2. Get Strong: Give yourself a month or 2 before heading out on the trails to build up leg and core strength and endurance. Going from 0-100 leads to injuries, pain, and potentially dangerous situations.

3. Build Endurance: Start with climbing stairs at work, walk on inclines, gradually build up from shorter hikes to that big hike you have your sites set on. You can even start a jogging program if you want.

4. Plan ahead: Plan for the trail you are going to be heading out on. If you know it is going to have 3,000 ft of elevation gain, you should make sure to get some hikes in with maybe 500-1,000ft of elevation gain. Make sure to have enough water and food, and have necessary equipment (e.g. bear spray).

5. Tell someone: We always let a family member know where we are heading out. That way if something were to happen on the trail and they don’t hear from us later that evening, the know to alert someone and are able to give them an idea of where we will be.

Since following these guidelines, my wife and I were able to gradually reach new peaks, travel longer trails, and enjoyed some of the most beautiful places we have ever seen without the set-backs from our first adventure.

Summit of Table Rock Mountain

If you are an outdoor enthusiast with an injury or just want a little help getting ready for the hiking trails faster, Idaho Direct Physical Therapy can help!


✅Personalized exercise guide

✅Monthly one-on-one virtual meeting with a Physical Therapist and fellow hiker to keep you on track/answer questions

✅Trail List to build up endurance and reach your goal

✅And more

Give us a call/text at 208-557-1470

Happy Hiking and Stay Safe!


Disclaimer: This content is for general, informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice.


Dr. Tyler Burke

DPT, Owner and Founder of Switchback Direct PT

We help injured outdoor enthusiasts to stop hurting and start adventuring.

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