One of the best things about hiking is that it is easy enough for just about anyone to do. If you’re not in great shape, you can still go on a short hike through a nature trail at a nearby park or wildlife preserve. If you keep at it, you’ll eventually be able to step things up to the next level and go on some more challenging hikes. Here’s how to know when you’ve reached that point and what you can do to challenge yourself.

Going on Longer Hikes
When you first start out hiking, you should keep your hikes relatively short. It takes time to get used to walking outdoors on uneven terrain, and you don’t want to push yourself. If you’ve been hiking for a while now and the short trips are feeling too short, it’s time to step it up and go for longer hikes. Consult guidebooks for parks and wildlife preserves near you to find some worthwhile nature trails. You don’t need to jump right to the long expert trails, but you can pick some more challenging intermediate hikes, especially if they take you to places you haven’t explored before. 

Hike at Higher Elevations
Elevation can make a big difference in how challenging a hike can be. When you start out, you’ll likely stick to flatter trails without a lot of steep hills. After you’ve been hiking for a while and you’re in better shape to handle the outdoors, you can seek out trails with a little more elevation. This will push you a lot harder than you think, so make sure that you are healthy enough to handle it.

Go Off the Beaten Path
Part of the appeal of hiking is the chance to see things in nature that you’ve never seen before. You’ll probably stick to trails that see heavy usage near populated areas when you’re just starting out. That might be new to you, but after you’ve gone on some shorter hikes, it’s time to be more adventurous and seek out more remote and isolated trails. That’s where you can really get in touch with nature and experience nature hiking at its best.