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Photos By: Jenna Reitz

Materials Needed:

–   Supportive shoes

–   Sunscreen

–   Reusable water bottle

–   Quick & easy snacks

–   Bug Spray

–   Hammock

Looking for a fun form of exercise that does not require being stuck inside for hours of the day? Want an excuse to explore the local breathtaking views of Athens while becoming one with nature? Try hiking! Going for a hike can be an excellent way to exercise, socialize, and harmonize within  the beauty of Athens’ nature. Hiking trails can be found all throughout the city from Strouds Run, to state parks, and even Bong Hill. Before heading out on your first hiking adventure, here is a list of necessities to have a safe, enjoyable trip.

  1. Supportive shoes

Hiking on natural or paved paths can be extremely hard on one’s feet and can often lead to injury or serious pain. To avoid the drama of foot pain, choose arch-supportive footwear, especially when hiking for long periods of time. However, the types of trails could determine what shoe to wear. For example, when hiking through the natural trails at Strouds Run, heavy-duty hiking boots would be the best option to avoid contracting poison ivy and bug bites. Whereas paved paths, like the bike path, are better suited for walking or running tennis shoes.

  1. Sunscreen

Staying outside for prolonged periods of time is a prime opportunity for sun burns, which can lead to skin damage over the years. Applying sunscreen before heading out and even while on the trail is essential to prevent burning. This step is especially needed when hiking through trails without tree coverage, like the new Buckeye Scenic Trail, an under six mile trail that runs parallel to U.S. Route 40. Additional sun gear, such as hats, visors, and sunglasses, can also be great ways to protect the eyes while boosting any hiking outfit.

  1. Reusable water bottle(s)

         Drinking water on the trail is important to keep up stamina and prevent dehydration-related illnesses. An environmentally friendly solution is to bring reusable water bottles to sip on along the way. Reusable water bottles are a great way to keep the nature of Athens clean and free of litter. Insulated bottles, such as Hydro Flasks, are highly recommended to have ice cold water even on the longest of hikes on the hottest summer days.

  1. Quick and easy snacks

         Hiking is an exhaustive form of exercise and tends to use up a lot of energy, so snacks are vital to refuel. Trail mix, granola, protein bars, and even beef jerky are ideal on-the-go snacks, being high in protein and nutrients to replenish the calories lost while hiking. It is also a smart idea to stay away from heavy snacks that slow the body down and stimulate exhaustion.

  1. Bug spray

         Although Athens’ nature is gorgeous, it is not free of bugs ready to bite. Bug spray is an essential tool to prevent being eaten alive by mosquitos or any other critters. Alternatives to bug spray can include bug repellent bracelets, lotions, essential oils, and several home remedies claiming to naturally repel insects. No matter the chosen method, be sure to keep it on at all times, especially in nature heavy areas. Strouds Run is notorious for mosquitos because of its proximity to Dow Lake, as well as the hike up Bong Hill, considering its off-the-trail nature.

  1. Hammock

         After a long day of hiking through the wilderness, a relaxing way to unwind before heading back home is to bring a hammock. Athens and Ohio University alike are spots known for their excellent hammock locations, many of which are discovered while hiking. Just find two trees a few feet apart and that’s a prime spot to hang out and become one with the trees.

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