Heading out on your first hike can be intimidating, but we want to make the outdoors accesible for everyone. Here’s how to start hiking if you’re beginning your outdoor journey from scratch.
Are you keen to enjoy the great outdoors but don’t know where to start?
Have you gone into the weekend thinking about going for a bushwalk, but didn’t know where to go or even where to find information on places to walk? Then the idea gets put in the ‘too hard’ basket and you end up binge watching Netflix for the umpteemth weekend?
Or maybe you have an idea of where to go, but don’t know what to wear, what essentials to bring or you don’t have anyone to go with?
Don’t let another weekend get away from you. We’ve got everything you need to know to hit the trail for the very first time.
Where do I find info on hikes?
Bushwalking or hiking is one of the most accessible ways enjoy the great outdoors and all the beautiful national parks and forests Australia has to offer.
The obvious place to start is right here! We Are Explorers has an ever-growing collection of hikes and adventures across Australia and New Zealand. Find your next (or first!) adventure by using the Explore Map. You can filter the type of activity, difficulty, location, and length to find a hike that suits you!
Can’t quite find what you’re looking for? The National Parks websites for each state and territory list nearly every bushwalking trail available in national parks. They’re a great place to research bushwalking trails and short walks near you or in a specific location you want to explore.
For example, you can search for parks near you on the Queensland Parks website. Once you’ve found a park you’re interested in visiting, a list of the trails is located under the Journeys tab (for large national parks) or the Things To Do tab (select the ‘Walking’ link).
You can see the track length and its level of difficulty, as well as the average walking time.
Some local councils also maintain bushland reserves offering up a range of walking trails. Take a look at your local council website and see if there are any trails near you.
You can also join hiking and adventure groups on Facebook to source info and get inspo. We’d love to have you in the We Are Explorers Community Facebook page! This is a great place to find people who are also just starting their hiking journey and start discussions about adventure.
If you’re looking for info more specific to your local area, search for ‘hiking’ or ‘bushwalking’ and the location you’re looking for, e.g Gold Coast or Blue Mountains. There are also some nation-wide hiking and bushwalking groups including Hiking in Australia and New Zealand.
These groups are great places to get suggestions for easy hiking trails, and you might find other people like you that are keen to give the outdoors a go for the first time.
What to Take on a Hike?
When you’re heading outdoors on a short walk, there are few things you should always pack with you. These are all things that you should already have at home or that you can grab from the supermarket.
- Hat – a cap or wide-brimmed hat are recommended!
- Insect repellent
- At least one large bottle of water per person
- Fully charged phone
- Enclosed footwear with some grip, such as running shoes – not flip flops or sandals
- Snacks e.g muesli bars, a couple of pieces of fruit, nuts, or a sandwich
- Jumper or rain jacket depending on the weather forecast!
Pop these into a small backpack if you have one, or a shoulder bag can also work for a short, flat walk. Wear something similar to what you’d wear while exercising e.g a comfortable T-shirt and tights or shorts.
Think about what the conditions will be like when you’re out there – Will it be sunny? Will there be mosquitoes? Best to lather up before you get on the trail.
Before you head out on a walk, you should always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. It’s a good habit to get into, even if you’re not going far.
There a few rules to follow when heading into the outdoors. Remember to pack out what you take in! Any rubbish you accumulate while outdoors should be taken home with you.
Domestic animals such as dogs aren’t allowed in national parks. Keen to take your pooch with you? There are plenty of dog-friendly hikes outside of national parks, whether you’re in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.
Finding Easy Hikes Near You
Getting into hiking doesn’t need to involve long and difficult walks – in fact many trails don’t require any bushwalking experience. Start with a 30 minute or one hour trail on easy, flat, and graded trails, see how you feel, and build up from there.
Near all of Australia’s major cities there are plenty of short, easy hikes that don’t need any bushwalking experience and can be completed in half a day or less.
Live close to the beating heart of NSW? You’re in luck. You don’t even have to leave the city to find magical day hikes in Sydney.
Although some are quite hefty, like the Royal National Park’s Coast Track, there are others, like the 4km Jibbon Track, that can be conquered by everyone. From wandering across coastal cliffs to secluded swimming holes in the middle of the bush, you won’t believe you’re still in Australia’s largest city on these hikes.
Just a short drive to the city’s outskirts and there’s a tonne of day hikes at your fingertips, ranging from easy to difficult. If you don’t feel like setting out on a specific hike and just want to wander and explore, there are lots of great day trips to take from Melbourne too.
Within 1.5 hours’ drive of Brisbane, you can access the entire Scenic Rim and scores of hikes through rainforests and across mountaintops. But let’s start simple. Our favourite easy hikes near Brisbane still offer up plunging waterfalls and scenic vistas. Keen to level up? The best intermediate hikes near Brissy are a little longer, a little steeper, and a little more beautiful.
Or, Start With a Road Trip
While the idea of a hike might be a tad intimidating at first, why not check out a national park or a forest on a road trip? The information signs at the most popular national parks will give you a good idea about the trails, how long they are, and how much time they take. This’ll help you prepare for your first hike.
For example, close to Brisbane the drive out to Lamington, Springbrook, D’Aguilar, and Mt Barney national parks are great for the views and rainforest even if you don’t go hiking.