Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world surrounding all of us. There is nothing like the feeling of being completely submerged in nature. Hiking has the power to clear minds and help people stay in shape. Although it is a lot of fun, there are some definite safety rules that should be followed every time someone plans to hit the trails.
Stick to the trails: It reduces the risk of getting lost in the wild and doesn’t cause excess damage to the environment that blazing another trail does; a fact which treadlightly.org stresses. Also, in many parks there are steep cliffs, and staying on the pre-determined paths generally steer people clear of going over the edge. On a more cheerful note, another reason to stick to the trails is if people are quiet, the trails are perfect places to view amazing wildlife.
Bring Water: It is always a good idea to stay hydrated outdoors, but it is especially necessary to pack water when hiking. A two-mile trail that loops can easily turn into a 10-mile expedition if you aren’t paying attention, so it’s always a good idea to have water close at hand. We suggest using a reusable water bottle to cut down on plastic waste.
First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is handy when it comes to patching up yourself or an uncoordinated friend after a mishap in the woods. During my very brief Girl Scout career, I was given a first aid kit in an Altoid Mint container complete with Band-Aids, hand wipes, cotton swabs, thread and a needle (in case someone needed stitches). It was small enough to carry around and it did come in handy a few times. However, if you still feel that bringing a whole kit is unnecessary, then please, I implore you to at least bring a few bandages.
Rivers, Creeks and Streams: According to troop2nj.com, “always cross creeks and streams in shallow, slow-moving water; but only if a bridge is not available.” Also, be aware creeks are home to many creatures. Do not pick up large rocks without first considering what could live under there, like a snake. Be careful around slippery rocks “when crossing a stream, unhook the waist buckle of you back pack so in case of a fall it will not act as an anchor.” If someone does happen to fall and get cut on the rocks it’s a good thing the first aid kit was packed.
Food: To keep an energized and sharp mind, snacks like trail mix and dried fruit are delicious and healthy. Just don’t feed the animals and don’t eat any berries that can’t be identified. It’s never smart to eat something if you are unsure if it’s poisonous. Do yourself a favor and don’t eat any plants or berries that may be found along the hike.
What to Wear: It is important to be prepared no matter what one is doing, and hiking is no exception. A large part of being prepared is wearing the proper footwear and clothing. Do not wear flip flops on the hiking trails. It isn’t always necessary to drop a hundred dollars on hiking boots; sneakers work fine on the trails and dry out in about a day if they happen to get wet in a creek or stream. There are companies that make sneakers and boots specifically for hiking and those are wonderful options for a serious hiker. The trick is to pick something that will have good traction and won’t hinder motion in any way; sorry ladies, that means no high heels. Just like people shouldn’t wear something impractical on their feet, wearing something impractical on their bodies is not the best move. Look at the weather forecast in advance, but even if the weather doesn’t call for rain or a drop in temperature it’s a good idea to have a jacket packed along with the rest of the gear in the summer months. According to adventure.howstuffworks.com people should wear light layers of clothing that can easily be removed so they are comfortable in both warmer and cooler temperatures. Just remember, when it comes to dressing for a hike, please choose practicality.
Follow all of these tips and you are well on your way to having a fun time hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. If you want to find a new hiking trail, check out our interactive Go Outside Map here. Happy trails and please feel free to share some of your hiking tips in our comment section below.