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Helpful Hiking Tips & Fun Fall Trails to Explore!

With the leaves beginning to change colors and pumpkin spice flowing through the air, it’s a great time to explore the views at some local hiking spots while getting some great exercise! Before heading out for a hike, let’s discuss shoes. Shoe wear is important to consider when hiking on uneven terrain. Ideally, you would like to find a shoe that has some ridges on the bottom as this will help grab the ground below you and provide traction and stability when taking steps. You will also want to be sure that the shoe you choose provides support at the ankle to prevent any ankle sprains. Look for a shoe that is slightly firm when you try to bend it and that the opening around the ankle does not collapse. Your stealth fit, knit shoes are cute, don’t get me wrong, but leave those behind for your hike and bring out a more stable shoe like a Merrell hiking shoe or an On Cloudventure. 

Next, let’s discuss warmup and cool down; you’ll want to spend about 5 minutes of time warming up and cooling down to prevent any injuries along your hike. Warming up will help to bring blood flow to your muscles, increase range of motion and enhance performance. A simple warm up could include marching in place, butt kicks, heel raises and arm circles. To cool down, you will want to stretch out the muscles used while hiking to prevent any buildup of lactic acid. This will help to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness,) which is a fancy way of saying sore muscles. Stretches could include a heel stretch along a curb, a forward bend hamstring stretch and a standing quad stretch. Hold your stretches for about 30 seconds to a minute. Hydrate adequately before, during and after your hike. Ideally, you want to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. This said, if you weigh 140 pounds, you will want to drink 70 oz of water in a day. This may be more than you are accustomed to but start with a small, achievable goal and continue to build from there! 

Now for the fun local hiking spots! Stoney Creek Metropark in Shelby Township is a top favorite of mine. There are both single wide and double wide unpaved trails that course through the woods with adequate maps to follow along the way. You may also run into some mountain bikers along your hike so keep a look out for anyone zooming by. If you are looking for a more intense option, Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills has beautiful unpaved paths through the woods that pass several flights of wooden stairs. If you are interested in getting your heart rate up, you can walk the paths, walk or run up and down the stairs and follow the trail to the next staircase. Another option is a connection of 3 long paths: the Macomb Orchard Trail, the Paint Creek Trail and the Clinton River Trail. The MOT is a paved trail that begins at 24 mile and Dequindre Road and courses into the city of Richmond, the path is 23 miles long from start to finish. Where the MOT begins at 24 mile and Dequindre Road, you can alternatively walk west and the CRT begins, which courses into Rochester. This trail is both paved and gravel. Along the way on the CRT, you will have an option to take a path north and walk along the PCT into downtown Rochester, this path is both paved and gravel and will continue to course into Lake Orion. These 3 connections of trails are fun to explore and will take you through multiple cities. You can easily find places to grab coffee, drinks, food and observe colorful trees, see wildlife, and hear the river flowing in the background. There are many exciting ways to get some exercise and see the views locally, hopefully you can head out in your supportive shoes, warm up your muscles, drink your water and hike the day away! Happy fall!

By Paula Terenzi, PT, DPT, OMPT

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