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Day Hiking – A Great Way To Get Fit And Enjoy Nature!

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Introduction To Day Hiking?

Day Hiking! A Great Way To Get Fit And Enjoy Nature - A group of hikers on a day hiking trip.

So what is Day Hiking – A Great Way To Get Fit And Enjoy Nature all about?

Day hiking refers to a hike, be it leisurely or extreme, which can be finished within one day.

Instead of setting up an overnight camp, you return to the comforts of your own home.

Another form of accommodation, such as a hotel or hostel may be used if you are away from home.

A day hike can be as simple as a day out in your local park as illustrated in my video below which shows my day hike around my local Sutton Park.

Example Day Hiking Video

Sutton Park Circular Day Hiking, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, England, UK

This video slideshow shows a day hiking route aropund 7 lakes in Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield on a lovely sunny day.


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Contents On Day Hiking

Use the following guide to find out more about day hiking:


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Benefits Of Day Hiking

Single day hikes are often undertaken on fairly accessible tracks and trails close to home so you get to discover some of the natural hidden treasures “in your own backyard”. Other benefits include:

  • Completed in one day,
  • Great for leisure hikers,
  • Get some exercise,
  • Breathe in fresh air,
  • See beautiful surroundings,
  • Minimal hiking gear is required.


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Types Of Day Hiking Routes

Day hiking is great for exercise, socialising and experiencing nature.

The general types of day hiking routes are:

  • One-Way Or Return Route Day Hiking – One way day hiking is where you just want to hike between two locations and not hike back to your starting point. Return route day hiking is where you hike back along the same route as your outward bound journey. These forms are not as popular as circular or figure of eight day hiking. A one-way route usually involves extra organisation in terms of transportation and a return route means the scenery is more restricted instead of experiencing a wider range of views.
  • Circular Day Hiking – A circular hike means the starting and ending locations of the hike are the same, which is usually a pub car park. Circular day hiking is popular as it avoids the complications involved in organising transportation for a one-way route. Using a circular route also means you get to see a greater variety of outdoor scenery than with a return route.
  • Figure of Eight Day Hiking – A figure of eight day hiking route means that there is a morning hike and a different afternoon hike, both starting and ending at the same place, which as with circular hikes, is usually a pub car park. Figure of eight hikes have become very popular as they appeal to social walkers, ramblers and hikers who just want a short morning or afternoon hike, but also to hikers that want a full day of hiking. Each of the 2 loops of a figure of eight route are usually about 4 to 5 miles in length.


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Day Hiking Distance and Time

The time to complete a day hike will depend on the distance to be covered and the difficulty of the terrain. If you base your timing on an average walking speed of 2.5 miles per hour then a 5 mile journey will take approximately 2 hours, plus an allowance for any snack breaks, ascents and descents, plus any difficult terrain.



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Day Hiking Equipment and Safety

Take a first aid kit on your day hiking trip.

One of the great things about day hiking is that you don’t need to take too much hiking equipment. If you’re only going out for a few hours then you’ll probably only need water, a jacket, a few snacks, and a small backpack to carry it all in. The actual hiking equipment you’ll need to take will depend on the distance, terrain to be covered and your personal preferences.

For your safety, we suggest that you don’t go hiking alone. We also recommend that you inform somebody of your plans. As a minimum we recommend taking the following equipment with you so that you are prepared for minor injuries and unexpected changes in the weather:

  • Map of the area,
  • Compass,
  • First aid kit,
  • A flashlight and spare batteries and bulb,
  • Extra food,
  • Extra clothing, including rain gear,
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen,
  • A pocketknife,
  • Matches in a waterproof container,
  • A candle or other fire starter.

If you go on a more extended hike then you’ll usually take the same gear but take more food and drink. For more information on what to take with you, see my article about a detailed checklist of hiking equipment.


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Navigation Methods for Day Hiking

Try a GPS device for your day hiking navigation.

Before you set off on your day hiking adventure, make sure you have the necessary hiking equipment. Unless you are travelling along roads and paths, you’ll probably need a map and compass. Even on roads and paths, you may feel more secure if you take along a map and compass anyway. If you have basic compass skills and map reading skills then you can probably successfully navigate your journey.

A more modern method of navigation is to use a GPS unit which enables you to know precisely where you have travelled to and where you have come from.

You can choose from a number of handheld GPS units on the market to suit your own needs in terms of budget and functionality.

If you going to return on the same route as your outward journey then a GPS enables you to record points that you pass on your journey. You can then retrace your footsteps on the return journey and is known as following a “breadcrumb trail”.

Using a map and compass is the old fashioned way and although it is more challenging, is more rewarding than the easy way using a GPS unit. A GPS could also fail so it is also advisable to take a map and compass along as a backup anyway.


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Summary on Day Hiking

Day hiking trips are a great way for recreational hikers to experience their local natural environment and at the same time get some valuable exercise.

You could start a hiking group with friends and locals and use it as a means of getting together socially.

Alternatively, you can look for an existing group and join in with them.

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