I remember I had this incredible sense of freedom when I did my first hike over 5 years ago. It was in Kisatchie Hills Wilderness in Kisatchie National Forest, and I felt as if I could go on forever. It was only after a few miles that my feet were killing me, and my knee started to hurt and my hike was over. I was in pretty good shape, working out 4-5 days a week but the problem I soon learned was twofold:
1. I had started my hike at breakneck speed, like it was some kind of race.
Hiking is an endurance thing. Start out at your natural walking pace as to allow your body to warm up. The problem I had early on was I would be so excited to get going that I was walking way too fast and irritating my TI band. This is the ligament that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hip to your knee. Even if it's only a short hike always stretch before and after your hike, and take its easy in the beginning.
2. The shoes I was using were athletic shoes, that were a size that fit just right, and I was wearing cotton socks.
COTTON KILLS! Cotton is great for towels because it absorbs water like a sponge. Not great for your feet because soon that moisture will become a breeding ground for blisters. Buy socks made with a synthetic fabric, or even better a merino wool blend. These fabrics will wick moisture away, and as a bonus, wool doesn't hold in the funky odor! Also get yourself fitted for trail appropriate shoes that have a good rock plate in them. A good shoe store will be able to show you the right way to choose a hiking shoe that is at least a half size bigger, as to allow for your feet swelling. * Bonus tip: Take a break every couple of miles or so, remove your shoes and socks for a little while, and elevate your feet if possible. The elevating will help with swelling and removing your shoes will give you a chance to clean debris out of your shoes and socks. The biggest cause for blisters is constant friction and dirt.