Orlando is not only the Theme Park Capital of the World but also a great destination for hikers of all abilities. There are dozens of popular trails in or near to the city.
If you’re fascinated by nature and the Everglades, you can enjoy a variety of day hikes through The Disney Wilderness Preserve. This park houses more than 1,000 species of wetland animals and plants. With rare birds like the native wood stork and red-cockaded woodpecker, it’s a great destination for keen birdwatchers.
If you want to sleep under the stars, grab your backpack and hike through the Hal Scott Regional Preserve. There you can experience the great outdoors at one of its three designated camping areas. Within the open prairie and flatwoods of the preserve, you might encounter bobcats, deer, bald eagles, turkeys, cranes, otters, tortoises, and indigo snakes.
Whether you intend to embark on short, half-mile treks, or 6-mile day hikes in the wilderness, you’ll be more comfortable, and better enjoy your journey, if you pack lightly. But when you pack lightly, you still must ensure you take everything you’ll need on your hiking adventure.
Make five lists
Before you stick any clothes into your backpack, you must stop and think. When you’re camping in the Hal Scott Regional Preserve, you won’t be able to pop into a nearby convenience store for the water you forgot or a packet of Advil.
To ensure you take everything you’ll need, make five lists:
- Food & drinks
Only take the clothes you need, and ensure they’re weather appropriate. Check the weather forecast! If you’re taking kids along, you may need extra changes of clothes for them. You know what kids are like! Preparing for a family hiking trip isn’t the same as hiking on your own. Experience the great outdoors with happy kids!
For short day-hikes, you only need your camera. But if you’re staying all day, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to carry any equipment, like your portable stove and a saucepan. If you’re hiking through areas where there are a lot of flying insects, take some bug spray.
These vary depending upon how far you’re going and who’s going with you. If your kids are coming, you’ll need those wet wipes. And if the baby is on board, don’t forget the diapers and a disposable bag for changes. You certainly won’t want to forget sunscreen in Florida!
Some things you can’t live without, so don’t forget them. If you or any family member suffers a medical condition, ensure you have any necessary medication in your pack. This includes an EpiPen for anybody with allergies.
Essentials also include items like your driving license, any travel tickets, credit cards, and cash. You might not be able to use them during the hike, but you’ll probably need them to get back to your accommodation afterward.
Food & drinks
Make sure you’re carrying enough bottled water. Even if you’re only going on a three-mile stroll, hydration is important. If you’re staying longer, you’ll need enough food for all your family for breakfast and lunch. And if you’re taking kids, you know you need those bribes healthy snacks.
Organize your gear
Gather everything on your five lists and lay the items out across a flat surface. Empty out your backpack and examine all the available places to store things. Mentally run through what items could fit where in your backpack.
If you’re packing a big load, you’ll probably need to use the rings on the outside of your backpack to attach some of your equipment. But if you’re only going on a short hike, the main compartment and side pockets should be sufficient for your needs.
As you pack items into your backpack, strike them off the lists to avoid doubling up. This will also make it easier for you to see when something’s missing when something on your list isn’t crossed off. But there’s an order to packing when you want to experience the great outdoors…
Heavy items go first. They go to the bottom of your backpack, ideally close to the frame. As you position them, distribute them evenly to keep your backpack balanced.
Frequently used items
Anything you’ll need in a hurry, like that bug spray, needs to be on top. Most certainly, any emergency medication or medical equipment, like a First Aid Pack should be somewhere easily accessible.
Things you’ll definitely need to take out during your hike, such as snacks and water, should also be in easily accessible locations. You wouldn’t want to remove your portable stove, the gas to fuel it, and all your clothes just to reach your Snickers bar.
If you love to take photographs, you should use a camera strap to hang your camera in front of your body for rapid use.
Your tent, ground mat, and other bulky items should be strapped to the top or bottom of your backpack using the rings provided.
Time to hike through the Everglades!
Now that you’ve ticked the final item off your lists, you’re all set to hike through the wilderness. Wherever you go hiking, in Florida or elsewhere around the world, these same basic principles apply. Hiking is great fun for all the family, and I hope you have a wonderful time in Orlando.