Erin McGrady on the trail in Merrell gear.

Erin McGrady

  • Five Hiking Essentials:

    Reusable water bottle, map, camera, snacks, and my dog Maggie

  • Indulgent Backpacking Item:

    My journal, pencil, and eraser. I never know when an idea or a feeling will come up that I want to remember.

  • Favorite Trail Snack:

    Peanut butter granola bars and cold pizza

  • Favorite Hike Podcast/Playlist/Artist:

    The Trail Ahead Podcast

  • Favorite Hiking Club & Communities:

    @authenticasheville Run Club

  • Favorite Hikes:

    Craggy Pinnacle Hike - North Carolina
    Erin walking on a sand dune.
  • Why do you get outside?

    Because I feel better when I do. It helps me reset and is a big part of my self-care routine. It's also one of the ways I consistently find joy.

  • What's one thing you wish you'd been aware of when you started out?

    I wish I'd known how to find a pair of boots that fit properly! I'd been wearing a half-size too small for most of my life. Finding not only a good-fitting boot but getting into the correct size is a game changer. If you're able, head to a specialty outdoors shop where the staff can measure your foot and help you figure out the right boot for you.

  • Erin sitting in a field.
  • How did you start backpacking? What was the most intimidating thing about it?

    Two of my friends took me on a backpacking trip in the White Mountains. I was super intimidated to poop outside — haha. But once I did it, I was relieved (pun intended) and had a blast.

  • Tell us about your favorite hiking experience to date.

    My first hike was with my grandparents, brother, and sister in Shenandoah NationalPark. I was 9 years old, wore my regular sneakers, and put a bunch of cookies in my school book bag. I remember walking in the woods, touching moss, and giving my sister a piggyback ride when she got tired. Post-hike we had PB&J sandwiches in the RV andI saw a bear on the side of the road. It was a pretty memorable experience, especially now that my grandparents are no longer alive.

  • Erin sitting in an alpine field.
  • What advice do you have for women who are just getting into outdoor adventures?

    Find a buddy and/or link up with a hiking club! Though I've done a fair amount of solo hiking, I almost always have more fun with friends. Also, use the gear you've got. Contrary to what some might say, you don't need to have the newest, most expensive pack, trekking poles, or boots to go hiking. Used gear is cool, too. Lastly, try lots of different outdoor activities and see what sticks. I never thought I'd like mountain biking but turns out I love it.

  • Fears + the outdoors: what was your biggest fear and how did you get over it?

    My biggest fear is being attacked in the outdoors because someone doesn't think I belong out there. I'm not sure I'll ever get over it but I refuse to let my world close in on me and not do something that brings me so much joy.

  • How do you prepare for a hike?

    I start by checking the weather forecast to make sure it'll be safe for me to go on a hike. If conditions look good, I'll pick a trail and then pack accordingly. The longer the hike, the more food and water I'll bring. If I'll be out after dark I make sure to have a headlamp and an extra layer. And I always tell someone where I'm going and when I'm supposed to be back.

Erin's trail favorites

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