Day Hike Check-List

Bookmark this post or take of a screenshot of this generic list of things to consider before going on a day hike.

GET YOUR HIKE ON Y’ALL! Be bold and healthy. Be free, get excited to breathe air, and stay hydrated to finish the hike. Think twice before walking out of your home. It is critical to plan accordingly and know what to pack especially if there might not be a cell signal in the near future.

What inspired me to compile a list of things to think about before a day-hike because these are all things I wished someone would have told me when I moved to the bay area in 2012.

I did not grow up privileged with California’s fantastic weather, access to beautiful parks, or outdoor knowledge except for running on city park trails. Despite my 2017 Pacific Crest Trail backpacking experience, I still relate to new hikers since it wasn’t introduced in my life until I moved to the Bay Area, and I did not grow up with it.

So this post is for the people who were not privileged with hiking experience but want to explore and break free from this shelter-in-place and see the great outdoors. And this is for those who haven’t been hiking in a while but want to reconnect with nature and might be a little rusty. I admit I felt rusty with my first 2020 day hike!

Get it! I want you to return back to your car happy, proud, and hydrated!

  1. Tell Someone Where You’re Going.
    What if something happens to you? Some trails are in the middle of nowhere, and there might not be a cell phone signal. Tell someone where you are going in case anything happens.

  2. Look up COVID-19 rules, hours, and FAQ page.
    There are a lot of new rules, and despite it may be a park you had visited in the past, there could be changes. Example: trails can now be a one-way loop, hours change, limited parking, restrooms are closed, picnic tables are closed, maybe there are no trash receptacles. Also, please check if the park is floof-friendly. Sometimes dogs are not allowed.

  3. Check Trail Conditions.
    Is the trail open? Some parks may be closed. How does the weather impact the trail? Are there ticks in the area?

  4. Calculate Time & Distance of Hike.
    Determine how long you want to be outside. If there is a 6-mile trail, determine your pace, and length of stay. The average person takes 2MPH, will take 3 hours. If you plan to have lunch, add more time. Please do factor the weather, elevation, altitude, and personal experience. High altitude may negatively impact my hike since I am prone to migraines if I cannot adjust. Additionally, planning for high elevation is essential, especially if it is hot outside, and there is no shade.

  5. Calculate Water and Food Needed.
    For water intake, it’s usually 1L per 5 miles. If it’s hot outside, carry more water, drink plenty before your hike, keep someone in your car for after the hike, and carry electrolytes (Nuun Sport) in case of hydration.

  6. Write Down Your Own Essential Items Needed.
    Take a minute or two and think about what you will need.

    Questions that pop into my mind:
    What kind of backpack will I bring? How will I store my water and food? Is a hat necessary? Do I need sunscreen or chapstick? Are mosquitos going to be a problem? Do I need a poop scoop because there are no bathrooms for miles near that trail? Is there water at the beginning of the trailhead? If not, how much do I want to leave in the car? What kind of shoes should I bring, boots or trail shoes? Do I leave sandals in my car so my feet can breathe on the way back? Do I want to eat lunch with a beautiful view or eat a local restaurant afterward, or maybe do both? Do I bring candy or Oreos? Do I need a whistle, perhaps for emergencies or in case I see a bear? Do I need to google what wildlife I should be cautious about? What stylish face-covering should I bring? Buff or bandana? So many questions!

  7. Download Map On Phone or Print It
    Please save the map before leaving your house. Going to a park to escape the city life may equate to no signal. Due to COVID-19, usually, parks do not offer paper maps anymore. Therefore save the PDF to your phone or print it. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can take a picture of the large printed map and use it as a guide. However, it would be best if you were more prepared due to COVID-19 = lack of paper maps and help.

  8. Charge your phone to 100%.
    You will be in the middle of nowhere and no phone outlets. In case something happens, make sure your phone will last and until when you can get to charge your phone.


Lastly, please remember to leave LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND and leave it better than you found it. Pack your trash. You brought it in, and you can take it out and properly dispose of it.

One response to “Day Hike Check-List”

Leave a Reply