Pick a Trail
Find one near you at Trails.com. Be sure to factor in more time when tackling steep terrain-hiking uphill takes about twice as long. To stay safe, bring a friend.
Trade in your sneaks for a lightweight yet sturdy trail shoe, like Merrell Siren Sync ($90; Merrell.com)-you need those thick rubber soles that grip the ground to help prevent nasty spills and guard feet against sharp roots and jagged rocks.
Other essentials: water, light snack (like granola), cell phone, ID, trail map, mini first-aid kit, hat, sunscreen, and a light jacket in case of rain or a drop in temp. A bonus pick: trekking poles (try WalkingPoles.com). They boost your burn by up to 40 percent by working your upper body and helping you move more quickly.
Help your Bod
Post hike, do a few minutes of down-dog (start in push-up position and press your body up into an inverted V) to loosen calves, hamstrings, hips, and shoulders, and help stay ache-free.