Hiking is a bit like running, all you really need is shoes and get walking! You don’t need to spend a fortune to get started hiking, but you certainly can. If you read Outside magazine, you can spend all kinds of money on gear to outfit your hobby, but you don’t need to spend a lot to get going.
Hiking in North Texas is not like hiking in the Rocky Mountains or across the Appalachian Trail. Our trails don’t include deathly defying drops or require multiple days in the back-country. However, it’s very easy to set out on a hike even on North Texas trails, and find yourself in trouble. I remember the time a friend went hiking up to the top of Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, in flip flops! Or when i stupidly went hiking in July at Fort Worth Nature Center without a map (early days before smart phones), and had no water.
Just because we may not live in the mountains, before you set out on a hike, you want to be prepared. While the precautions you may take to do a loop around White Rock Lake may vary from an extended hike through the LBJ Grasslands, there are a few basic things you should take into consideration.
You don’t need to spend a fortune, just make sure you have the basics before you set out!
The Right Shoes
Water is Critical
This is critical in North Texas, you need to make sure you have plenty of water with you for the hike you are planning. While you may not need water for a short 3 mile hike around a local lake, that story could be dramatically different if you are going during the hot summer months and are running. I always have either my hydrapak (a backpack that also has a reservoir you can drink from with an included line), or a smaller hand held squeeze bottle. The amount you need to bring with you really depends on how long you are going to be out, the heat, and the exertion. Especially in the summer months, water isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. Keep in mind too, if you are bringing you furry friends with you, please bring water for them as well. I’ve encountered so many people at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve who have their dogs with them who are over-heated, and they didn’t even bring water for them. So it’s not just you who needs water, your dogs do too!
A Map of the Trails
Cell Phone / GPS
The Right Clothing
Snacks or Lunch
There are other things you may need, that I’m not going to list. I’ve seen people using trekking poles to navigate some of the more difficult spots at Cedar Ridge Preserve for example, but wouldn’t consider them essential due to our flat terrain in the area. Tents and multi-day hiking gear might be useful at LBJ Grasslands or at some of the State Parks if you want to stay overnight, but for many of our trails here in North Texas they won’t be essential. I think the basics above will keep you safe and in good shape!