Sure, hiking looks fun. It’s just a leisurely walk through the woods, and at this time of year, that’s a particularly beautiful proposition. But just how does someone get started on a hiking adventure?

It’s a little more complicated than putting one foot in front of the other, but not by much. With the right gear and the right plan, you can exercise in the great outdoors in no time.

Here’s what you need to get started for a beautiful fall hike:

+ Shoes or hiking boots ― You may not need to start with a pair of hiking boots. For shorter trips, a pair of trail shoes should work. For longer hikes, or for times you are carrying more weight in your pack, you should move up to a pair of hiking boots for additional support.

+ A map and a compass ― You can get turned around on even the shortest of trails. Knowing where you are going is your best protection, and if you’re unfamiliar with the area, a map that highlights the route and a compass to tell you which direction you’re pointing will be a big help.

+ Food and water ― Hiking can be a taxing workout, depending on the terrain and elevation changes. Make sure you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated and enough food to keep you moving. Burning calories is a good thing, but not when it weakens you, so pay attention to what your body is telling you. For longer hikes, make sure to bring a method for purifying water.

+ a first aid kit ― Hiking is generally a safe, practical hobby for everyone. But nature is also unpredictable. Make sure you have a standard first aid kit to patch yourself up after a minor fall or a run-in with a thorn-covered bush.

Now that you’ve got what you need to stay safe, it’s time to get out there. But where to? Here’s what to look for in a trail:

+ Find one appropriate for your fitness level. If walking a mile is difficult for you, a one-mile hike will be, too. Start conservatively and then work your way up to longer distances.You can also start on city trails to increase your stamina before heading out in the woods.

+ Make your first adventure close to home. Because you are already familiar with the climate, sunlight availability and geography, staying close to home makes for a simple hike your first few times out. Build some confidence before you venture out to distant trails.

+  Look for trails that have signposts or nearby guide stations that might provide a map. When you’re still learning your physical capabilities, it’s good to stick to well-marked paths.