The crisp fall air filled our young lungs. Orange and red leaves crunched beneath our feet.

We climbed hills and pretended to be living in another time, exploring the wooded outdoors. My sister, Lacey, carried a walking stick, usually one she pulled from dad’s brush pile. Ah, yes. It feels like just yesterday when we were kids hiking in the Missouri countryside.

My love for a good hike has only increased with age. What I’ve grown to appreciate most is that it’s an activity that combines the freshness and beauty of nature with exercise (or as I like to say instead “enjoyable movement”). What’s even better is that a hike is self-paced. It can be as laborious or calm as one desires. But regardless of pace, snacks are a must-have for sustained energy and emergency situations. Here are my top tips for staying nourished on the trails:

1. Stay hydrated. Pack a bottle of water with an electrolyte replenisher. This is particularly important when it’s warm outside. I love adding Nuun tablets to water for flavor and a bit of fizz. Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, and Pedialyte are also great options. A good rule of thumb is two to three cups per hour of hiking.

2. Pack one snack for every two hours. For example, if you anticipate being out for four hours, be sure to pack at least two snacks.

3. Keep it portable. Keep it light. You obviously don’t want to be weighed down when you’re trekking a leg-busting trail in the Ozarks. Choose lightweight, nutrient-dense snacks. Opt for non-perishable goods. Bars such as Rx Bars, Thunderbird Bars (personal favorite), Larabars, EPIC bars, or whatever kind you like best make a great option. Beef jerky, trail mix, rice cakes, or nut butter packs are wonderful staples. Fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas are also great, whole-food options.

4. Eat breakfast before you go. Choose a meal that’s higher in carbohydrates like steel-cut oatmeal with honey and a diced apple, whole grain toast with peanut butter and a sliced banana, or yogurt topped with berries.

Missouri is stacked with trails for all levels of hiking, from amateur to expert. Get out there and explore, and take your snacks! Happy hiking.

Tori Eaton is a registered dietitian nutritionist who grew up in mid-Missouri. Tori promotes her passion for women’s health and building a support community in a world full of nutrition confusion through her blog and social media. Visit

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