Hiking Safety 101

hiking view from Jewel PathGuest Blogger: Mandi Strzelewicz, Producer of Life Above Clouds, Intern, UMass Memorial Medical Center

Who doesn’t like to take a leisurely stroll outdoors? Want to take it up a notch? Try hiking. Hiking is an activity for all ages and fitness levels, whether you’re taking a walk through a local park or climbing summits across New England. You can get great exercise while soaking in the amazing views of nature – all at a pace that is comfortable to you.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a good hike, but you want to make sure you prepare yourself properly so you can enjoy your hike injury-free. Check out these tips to get the most out of your summer hike!

Dress Properly- When you’re hiking you should have layers of clothing that you can add or remove. This is especially important if you plan on hiking a mountain, as the temperature can change dramatically at the top. Wear proper hiking shoes and stay away from open-toed shoes. If you need to, try wearing compression socks to help aid blood flow and avoid swelling in your feet. Break in any new shoes before taking them on a hike.

Stay Hydrated and Fueled- Like any exercise, you need to stay hydrated. Even though you may find bodies of water on your hike, it’s important not to drink from it unless you have a specialized filter. Also keep plenty of healthy snacks to munch on. With all the scenery around to distract you, it may not seem like it, but you’ll be burning a lot of calories.

Don’t Rely on Your Cell Phone or GPS- It’s great to use a GPS for hiking, but make sure you know how to navigate without it in case of emergency such as dropping it in water, no signal or no battery. Learn the trail markers on trees or rocks to avoid getting lost and learn to read a good, old-fashioned trail map.

Stay on the Trail- Many trails tend to zigzag. Even though it may be tempting to cut through and create a shortcut, don’t. Trails are highly traveled and therefore much easier to hike. It’s easy to get lost if you go off trail and you’re more likely to have a run-in with ticks, snakes and poison ivy.

Check the Weather- Before you go on a hike, always check the weather forecast, especially if you plan to hike mountains. Conditions can change fast, and you never want to get stuck in a storm. Use this website for the weather forecasts of mountain summits.

Leave a Note- Always make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to return. Tell them what trail you’re hiking and where you are starting from. If someone doesn’t hear from you by your scheduled finished, they’ll be able to contact authorities such as the National Park Service.

Emergency and First-Aid Supplies- Always be prepared in case of emergencies. We’ve gathered a packing checklist for any supplies you may need in case of an emergency. Download our Hiking First-Aid Kit Checklist.

Leave No Trace- Often trails are protected areas. We love the beauty of nature, so leave it that way. Practice no/low trace hiking techniques. This means respecting wildlife and disposing of waste properly. Visit this website for more details.

Join the conversation: Excited to go hiking yet? Tell us your favorite trail or find a place to hike near you!

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