Wanderer auf dem Eggersteig

Hiking trails

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Hiking is one of the easiest ways to practise sports in the open air. You don't need much equipment to discover rivers and lakes, coasts and beaches, hills and mountains, forests and marshes. There is no question why hiking is so popular – when do you start?

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Who can go for a hike?

The answer to this question is quite simple: everyone. Hardly any other sport is as diverse as hiking. While beginners can stroll comfortably along coastal paths or through shady forests, more experienced hikers enjoy the ups and downs of low mountain ranges. Professionals climb alpine trails and reach summits on their tours.

Hiking trails on Outdooractive

On this page you will find information on classic hiking trails – a sporting activity with unbroken popularity. With little previous knowledge and equipment, almost anyone can set off for a hike.

The following overview offers assistance for the complex distinction between mountain hikes and classic hikes:

Hiker on top of an exposed summit
Photo: CC0, pixabay.com

Hiking trail

Hikes take place mainly on forest roads and wide footpaths. Common places to go are huts, guesthouses or destinations. Tours in alpine terrain and above the tree line only occur in the form of well-paved panoramic trails.

On hikes there are no passages with an increased risk of falling. Serious character due to alpine dangers is not given due to its short length and/or proximity to accommodation and settlement areas. A certain basic condition is advisable for hiking. Sure-footedness and a head for heights, however, are not required.

 

Mountain hike

Mountain hikes mainly run on alpine paths above the tree line. They can include short climbing sections or lead through trackless terrain. The aim of a mountain hike is usually to reach a summit.

Some, even longer passages with an increased risk of falling require sure-footedness and a head for heights. The tours have a serious character due to their length, difference in altitude, exposure and alpine dangers (e.g. sudden changes in the weather).

Physical requirements for hiking

It is important not to overestimate oneself at the beginning. If you are hiking for the first time, you should not start with a day trip, but give your body enough time to get used to exercise. Anything that is fun is allowed when hiking – and of course you can also be challenged after the acclimatisation phase.

For moderate hiking in the plain, a healthy person only needs a certain basic condition. However, if the tours become longer, shift into alpine terrain or go through extreme weather conditions, the body is more strained. The most important requirements are sure-footedness, a head for heights and a good stamina.

Especially in alpine terrain, it is essential to inform yourself in advance about the weather conditions on the course. Thunderstorms  can quickly become a disaster for hikers if they misjudge the situation.

Hikes with a guide are not only more fun, it is also much safer not to be alone. For your own safety, anyone who walks alone should at least let someone know where they are heading and how long they are likely to be away.

Hikers crossing a meadow
Photo: Outdooractive Editors

Equipment for hiking

Once you have chosen your route, you need to think about the equipment. Otherwise the fun will be clouded all too quickly due to wrong clothing, unsuitable shoes or missing provisions.

The following equipment is recommended for hiking:

Walker with waterproof footwear in a brook course
Photo: Outdooractive Editors

Clothing

  • well-fitting, comfortable and sturdy shoes (the more difficult the terrain, the more stable the footwear)
  • outerwear made of sweat-transporting and fast-drying material
  • trousers made of hard-wearing and elastic synthetic fiber material
  • weatherproof, hooded jacket made of wind- and water-repellent material
  • light spare clothes for changing
  • socks with reinforced footbed of mixed fabric or terry cloth
  • for colder temperatures: functional underwear, fleece jacket or sweater, hat and gloves

 

Accessories

  • hiking backpack with padded carrying system, about 20 to 30 liters for a normal tour
  • topographic maps and guides
  • protection against UV radiation (headgear, sunglasses and sun screen)
  • first aid kit, blanket and mobile phone (for possible emergency call)
  • drinking bottle, provisions
  • walking sticks (increase the surefootedness when walking uphill on slippery ground; the joints are spared when walking downhill.)

Provisions when hiking

Depending on the route length and character, hiking consumes a great deal of energy. For this reason, the physical reserves must always be full.

An extensive breakfast is essential. The first meal of the day should be plentiful, but not too heavy. It is difficult to move with a full stomach.

A balanced breakfast serves as the best basis for hiking.
Photo: CC0, pixabay.com

During the hike itself it is advisable to have small and regular snacks. Carbohydrate-rich foods are best for this because it makes the energy quickly available. Take for example sandwiches made of wholemeal bread, cereal bars, energy gels, dried or fresh fruit – especially bananas – as well as sports drinks and enough water.

 


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