Whether you are hiking on the coast or along sandy dessert tracks, sand can be a common sight while hiking. Following some basic rules can make hiking on sand easier and safer while requiring very little change to how you hike. Listed below are some great tips on making your hiking life easier in both coastal areas and inland area while walking on sand.
Coastal Areas are probably the most prevalent example of sandy environments with countless beautiful beaches lining our shores around Australia. Many famous trails feature sections along sand like the prominent Wilson's Promontory Southern Circuit or the Angourie to Brooms Head Coastal Walk.
One of the best tips for hiking along beaches is to find the wet sand; when the sand is wet it is often quite firm allowing you to walk on it a lot easier than if it were the soft and dry sand. This also means you leave fewer foot prints and leave no trace of your presence on the beach.
When it comes to coastal sand dunes there are a few more things you can do to make walking in these areas easier. The first of these tips is to follow the ridge line of the dunes. Even if it may look shorter to walk down into the dips of the dunes and back up to the ridge you will end up using far more energy than if you had just walked along the ridge.
The second tip for walking dunes is try go when the weather is coolest, this is most often in the morning and this will mean the sand will be slightly firmer due to this temperature difference with the heat from a sunny afternoon.
Walks along the beach are not where hiking on sand ends though as there are quite a few hikes that require you to walk sandy paths, especially in rural and outback Australia. Some of the examples of these hikes throughout Australia are the Sunset Remote Walking Track Circuit and Wells and Sturts Tree walking track which both feature sandy tracks throughout.
On trails like these it is important to stick to the track and avoid shortcuts even if you think it will save you time. Sand is notoriously tiring to walk in, using a large amount of energy to push through it. Unlike along beaches, there is rarely any wet sand meaning your options for making this walking easier are limited but that doesn't mean they are non-existent.
Like walking on dunes you want to follow the ridge (if there is one) or the trail. Wearing shoes with good traction should also help especially if they are custom made for walking in sand and similar conditions.
When making calculations for how long it will take you to walk a trail you can nearly guarantee that this time will be double in the sand simply due to its unique ability to slow you down unlike many other surfaces.
Next time you are hiking in a sandy area remember to take on some of these tips for walking along sandy tracks. Because sand is such a tiring surface you've got to be careful you don't burn out from walking it all day but if you take some precautions and plan ahead you can stay safe and walk it with a lot less pain.
Written by Josh Welch