7 Tips for Safe Hiking
As the snow melts away and gives way to spring, many of us feel the itch to get back out into the great outdoors. One of the best ways to do this is by hiking those trails you love that were buried in the snow for so long--but you want to ensure you hike safely! Check out these tips for safe hiking as you explore nature.
Bring water. Hydration is very important so make sure you bring extra water while you’re out hiking and exercising. It is also a good idea to bring some trail snacks with you in case you start feeling a bit peckish.
Bring a map and compass (and be sure you know how to use them). Depending on where you hike, some of the trails are going to be very well-maintained and others might look a bit more reclaimed by nature. Just in case something happens, you should have a map of the area and a compass in your pack as a backup so you navigate yourself out if need be. Along these same lines, be sure to take a whistle and a simple first aid kit as well as a headlamp in case your hike goes longer than expected.
Assume the weather will change and pack accordingly. The weather can be very unpredictable, so you need to be prepared for any possible outcome. Check the weather forecast before heading out on your hike, but be sure to bring rain gear, sun protection, and extra layers just in case the whims of the weather change.
Start early for a better chance to view animals. Many animals will hide during the day when the trails are more populated with people, but if you want to try to catch a glimpse of birds or other wildlife, consider starting your hike closer to dawn.
If you hike with kids, allow yourself extra time. Hiking with kids can be super fun, not only as a family bonding experience, but because kids can be very observant and find cool landmarks and other things along the trail. However, this means that hiking with kids can take a lot of extra time (those cool leaves and rocks are not going to examine themselves). Remember that hiking with kids is more about the journey, not the destination!
Prepare your dog. Hiking with your dog can be a lot of fun, but your dog needs to be ready the same way you are. Make sure your dog is up to date on all their vaccinations and have ID tags on their collar. Be sure to bring extra provisions like water and treats for your dog as well and remember that dogs sometimes need to train for long hikes, so do not forget to bring them on shorter day hikes as well if your ultimate goal is a longer excursion. Lastly, double check the trail rules to make sure dogs are allowed. Certain trails do not allow dogs, even leashed ones, due to concerns about wildlife, so check online before you pack up your pup.
Clean up after yourself. No one likes a trail covered in trash, so be sure you take all of yours with you when you leave. Bring a designated zip top plastic bag for any refuse you produce and consider picking up any other trash you find if you can in order to leave the trail better than you found it. Remember the adage: take only pictures, leave only footprints!
What are some of your favorite hiking tips that we did not include in this list? Let us know in the comments!