SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The Carolinas offer a variety of hiking options. You can hike a mountain or near water, but the key to hiking is to be prepared.

“Start local. You have Parris Mountain State Park nearby and Croft State Park nearby. Get on the South Carolina Parks website, start finding out research about your state parks. Then make sure to have fun, carry the ’10 Essentials,’ get good shoes and just be honest with yourself,” Matt Herzog, employee at The Local Hiker, said.

At The Local Hiker in Spartanburg, you can find pretty much anything you need to get outdoors. So, I wanted to know: what do you need to get the most out of your hiking experience?

The gear table for the 10 Essentials of Hiking

Herzog suggested new hikers familiarize themselves with the “10 Essentials” needed for hiking. Those include:

  1. Navigation: Compass, map, GPS
  2. Comfortable shoes/socks
  3. Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, etc.
  4. Water (or a way to purify water)
  5. Food
  6. Rain gear/extra clothes
  7. First Aid Kit
  8. Safety items: Flashlight, whistle, a way to start a fire
  9. Knife or Multi-tool
  10. Shelter

Herzog said when you think about the essentials, you start from the ground and work your way up.

“You definitely want to feel comfortable, and you want to make sure you’ve got the right gear. So, shoes is a good place to start,” Herzog said.

Herzog explained hiking boots offer more ankle support and are better for rocky terrain.

Planning and preparation are key. Always dress for the weather where you plan to hike.

“If you’re going to be out there in the sun more often, skin cancer can be an issue. You want to make sure you are protected from that,” Herzog explained. “If you’re going to be out there for longer periods of time, maybe past 8 p.m., make sure you’re carrying that headlamp.”

The last thing Herzog said you need before hitting the trail is knowledge of the area and wildlife. Watch out for snakes and bears!

“Just leave them alone,” Herzog said. “What’s a good rule of thumb is actually The Rule of Thumb. You want to be far enough away that you can cover one eye and you can cover the animal up with your thumb. Make sure you have about a 50-foot distance and respect wildlife.”

Matt Herzog demonstrates The Rule of Thumb

By arming yourself with the right essentials you can make hiking in the Carolinas a great experience.

The Local Hiker offers several hiking resources whether you are an experienced or novice hiker.

Hikers are reminded to always fill out those information cards at the beginning of trails so that DNR officers can locate you if problems come up.

Below you will find some of the hiking trails in the area: