1. Make sure that you drink enough water. Also make sure that you bring enough water with you or you can find water supply during the hike. In hot weather dehydration is especially dangerous.
2. Be careful what you pack. The most important rule of hiking is smart about what you pack. A beginning hiker generally becomes exhausted carrying a sack full of trail munchies, games, a portable CD player, three sweaters, and a video camera. Although pictures are nice, consider carrying a disposable camera for a more enjoyable hike. ( Learn more about Minimizing your pack)
3. Think before you step. Keep an eye on the trail well in front of where you are walking, and always consider the path before bounding forward.
4. Bring your own medicines.
5. Never hike alone. NEVER- under any circumstances venture into the woods by yourself. Outdoor adventures are fun for the family, but hiking is only a group sport. The chances of becoming lost, sustaining injury, or losing supplies is much higher when alone, making the sport extremely dangerous.
6. Don’t don and doff layers continually.
Though it is good to dress in layers, choose which layers, and stick with them for a time. Otherwise, you will exhaust yourself and try the patience of the group you are with. It’s generally better to be a little cool than too hot, but don’t change unless you are really getting uncomfortable.
7. Put the slowest hiker in front and pace the group to that person.
This works great in a group of differing ages! With the fast hikers in the front, they have a tendency to spread out too much. Then someone small at the back gets exhausted running to keep up. If you do divide into faster and slower groups, the one ahead should never get too far ahead and should stop and let the others catch up on a regular basis.
8. Take regular breaks.
9. Avoid sunburn.
10. Encourage kids not to exhaust themselves early in a hike. Sometimes little ones run at the beginning, run out of energy and have to be carried.
11. Always carry out what you carry in.
The first rule with interacting with the environment is: Leave it as you found it. This rule applies to the trees, the earth, the animals, the campsite, and even the flowers.