Whether it’s for recreational or health purposes, lots of people like to go on nature hikes. It’s a lot of fun for families to spend time together at the park and it can be very educational for young children. I remember as a child my family would go to the park and I would collect things like leaves and flowers and then go home and draw what I saw. Going for walks can also be a way to spend quality time with your friends or significant other. And let’s not forget the healthful benefits from getting a daily walk in; just walking for 30 minutes each day can have great impact on your health.
While hiking can be fun, there’s a big difference between hiking at local/community parks and state/national parks. With local parks, you’ll typically know the geography and the trails will probably only take an hour or so to walk. When it comes to hiking at national/state parks, the terrain can be rough and unfamiliar. National and state parks are beautiful, but they can be dangerous. If you plan to hike through a national/state park, you need to be prepared. Here we have compiled a list of safety tips that you should take under consideration when planning to hike at a national or state park.
Safety Tips for Hiking
Always, always, always stay hydrated. The more you sweat, the more water you need to drink. And even though fancy sports drinks may seem more appealing than water, nothing can beat the health benefits of your basic H2O. It’s recommended that you drink one quart of water every two hours.
Consider Your Health
Know your limits. Sometimes when you’re with your friends you can feel pressured to push yourself further than you are capable of. When you feel tempted to push yourself, ask yourself what you would rather hurt: your health or your ego? Pay attention to your body; it knows you best. If it’s telling you that it’s time to stop, chances are, it’s time to take a break!
Bring the right equipment. Pack flashlights or headlamps, even if you’re hiking in the daytime. Remember your basic hiking essentials: compass, map, first aid kit, flares. It’s also important to remember that you might not get cell service, so don’t expect to rely on phones in an emergency.
Consider Your Clothing
Wear appropriate clothing. This seems like a basic tip, but sometimes the simplest things are what get overlooked. No flip flops or sandals. Pants, no shorts (unless you’re fond of having scratches all over your calves). You should also ask yourself if you should wear a T-shirt or long sleeves.
Respect the Wildlife
Although animals can be cute, they can also be dangerous. Research the area you’re going to be in to see if there are bears, wolves, or other predators that you might encounter, and know how to react if you do encounter them. Also, please respect the wildlife and don’t litter! Remember: you’re visitors to their home. Treat their home the same way you would if you were visiting a friend’s home. To learn more about wildlife safety, you can visit the National Wildlife Federation’s website here.
The National Park Service would like to remind everyone to HIKE SAFE:
Have a plan
Inform someone of where you’re going and
when you plan to return
Keep a flashlight and whistle with you
Eat well, stay hydrated: carry plenty of water
Stay on the trail
Ask for HELP!
Familiarize yourself with the area, use a map
Expect changes in the weather
And Last but not Least…
Remember to enjoy yourself! Although safety is important, don’t lose sight of why you’re hiking in the first place!
Do you have some other tips that you’d like to share? Drop us a comment; we’d love to hear your suggestions!