10 Hiking Trails Essentials
Ten most important things you should bring along with you on every hike.
1. Appropriate footwear. For a short day hike that doesn’t involve a heavy pack or technical terrain, trail shoes are great. For longer hikes, carrying heavier loads, or more technical terrain, hiking boots offer more support.
2. Map and compass/GPS. A map and compass not only tell you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident. While GPS units are very useful, always carry a map and compass as a backup.
3. Extra water and a way to purify it. Without enough water, your body’s muscles and organs simply can’t perform as well. Consuming too little water will not only make you thirsty, but susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness.
4. Extra food. Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: getting lost, enjoying time by a stream, an injury, or difficult terrain. Extra food will help keep up energy and morale.
5. Rain gear and extra clothing. Because the weatherman is not always right. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Two rules: avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin) and always carry a hat.
6. Safety items: fire, light, and a whistle. The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent hypothermia. Fires are also a great way to signal for help if you get lost. If lost, you’ll also want the whistle as it is more effective than using your voice to call for help (use 3 short bursts). And just in case you’re out later than planned, a flashlight/headlamp is a must-have item to see your map and where you’re walking.
7. First aid kit. Prepackaged first-aid kits for hikers are available at any outfitter. Double your effectiveness with knowledge: take a first-aid class with the American Red Cross or a Wilderness First Aid class.
8. Knife or multipurpose tool. These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear.
9. Sun screen and sun glasses. Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you’ll need sunglasses to prevent snow blindness and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
10. Daypack/backpack. You’ll want something you can carry comfortably and has the features designed to keep you hiking smartly. Don’t forget the rain cover; some packs come with one built-in. Keep the other Essentials in the pack and you’ll always be ready to hit the trail safely. Hiking begins before you reach the trail-head.
Hiking trails locations & maps
Hiking Trails – Hiking Tips
Before leaving home to go to your hiking trails
While it’s natural to want to jump into the car on a whim and drive to a favorite hiking trail, doing so is not necessarily the wisest of choices. Hiking is a lot like painting a house in that the preparation is just as important as the actual activity itself. So before you head out, follow these tips:
Let people know where you’ll be hiking and when you expect to be back. This is important whether you are going on a day hike at a nearby park or on a multi-day hike. On a backpacking trip, plan where you’ll be camping each night as well as the section of trail you’ll be hiking each day, in case you need to be pinpointed for an evacuation. The best insurance is a written reminder with all your information left behind with someone who is not going and who is expecting you back or to check in by a certain time.
Study your hiking trails maps before you begin the trip. Have a good idea of which route you will hike. Look for possible emergency exit points as well as places where water refills are likely. Identify more than one water spot since dry spells can be unpredictable.
Time control plan. Predetermine where you ought to be at certain points of the day using your map. Factor in your walking speed based on the number of people on the hike as well as their fitness level. Also, for every 1000 feet of elevation you gain, add about an additional hour of hiking time. Remember that when traveling as a group, you are only as fast as the slowest person in the group.
Make a graph of chart your route. Highlight the route you will be taking. Mark potential spots for campsites, water stops, and major road intersections on your map so you will not have to search for them on the trail.
Check the weather and pack accordingly, keeping in mind that the weather at the base of a mountain and halfway up a mountain can be vastly different. Rain gear (one of the 10 Essentials) should be brought even if no rain is predicted, as wet clothes can cause a person to become hypothermic even with temperatures in the 50’s.
Leave No Trace on the Hiking Trails Behind
Leave what you find, take only photos and memories.
1. Plan ahead and prepare. Know the type of terrain and possible weather conditions you might encounter. Minimize impacts by keeping groups small and avoiding high use times for the trail. Walking single file and avoiding shortcuts will limit damage to the trail and surrounding ecosystems.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Focus activity on resilient ground. Surfaces consisting of sand, gravel, rock, snow, or dry grass are durable and can withstand heavy use. Walk through mud/puddles to avoid widening the trail.
3. Dispose of waste properly. Pack it in, pack it out! This includes not only food wrappers, but also biodegradable waste such as banana peels, etc. Also practice “negative trace” by picking up trash left by others. Dispose of human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep in soil at least 200 feet from any water source. Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.
4. Leave what you find. You can look, but please don’t take. Leave everything that you find in the wilderness where it belongs. Avoid moving rocks, picking plants, and disturbing cultural or historic artifacts.
5. Minimize campfire impacts. Keep your campfire small—or go without. Use previously constructed fire rings or mounds. Only burn small diameter wood found on the ground. Do not damage live or fallen trees. Be aware of the level of fire danger of the area. Make sure your campfire is completely smothered before you leave camp. Small camping stoves are much more efficient for cooking, and leave no impact on the site.
6. Respect wildlife. Let the wild be wild. Keep your distance and do not attract or approach animals. Never feed them food intended for humans as this disrupts their natural foraging habits. Control pets in natural areas and always keep them restrained.
7. Be considerate of other visitors. Show respect for other trail users. Keep voices/noises from getting intrusively loud. Obey any posted trail rules including rights of way. Orient rest spots and campsites away from the trail. Attempt to minimize visual impacts by wearing clothes that are earth tone colors (unless, of course, hiking in the vicinity of hunters): brown, green, tan or black.
For more information on Leave No Trace principles, please visit their website, Leave No Trace.org.
Hiking Trails Etiquette
Be respectful of the land, wildlife, and other hikers so they can enjoy the same things you have.
Almost every group of people have some unwritten rules to help govern their activity and make things more pleasant for all those participating. Rules such as not cutting in line at a ski lift and keeping your elbows off the table when eating at Mom’s house are just two examples.
Hikers are no different. Following a few unwritten rules can help make your hike and the hike for others more pleasant. Among some commonly observed practices are:
• Hike quietly. Speak in low voices and turn your cell phone down, if not off. Enjoy the sounds of nature and let others do the same.
• If taking a break, move off the trail a ways to allow others to pass by unobstructed.
• Don’t toss your trash – not even biodegradable items such as banana peels. It is not good for animals to eat non-native foods and who wants to look at your old banana peel while it ever-so-slowly decomposes? If you packed it in, pack it back out.
• Hikers going downhill yield to those hiking uphill.
• When bringing a pet on a hike, be sure to keep it on a leash and under control. Don’t forget to pack out pet waste as well.
• Don’t feed the wildlife. While many animals stay hidden, others are not so shy. Giving these creatures food only disrupts their natural foraging habits.
• Leave what you find. The only souvenirs a hiker should come home with are photographs and happy memories. (And maybe an improved fitness level!)
• When relieving yourself outdoors, be sure to do so 200 feet away from the trail and any water sources. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
• Walk through the mud or puddle and not around it, unless you can do so without going off the trail. Widening a trail by going around puddles, etc. is bad for trail sustainability. Just because it looks easy to cut the corner off of a switchback doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Help preserve the trail by staying on the trail.
• If hiking in a group, don’t take up the whole width of the trail; allow others to pass.
The following few paragraphs is from a new research project being done by some of our friends at the University of North Alabama in regards to ethics and etiquette when you are out using the abundant array of trails, and we hope you choose to participate in this project concerning hiking trail ethics! Remember that we together can keep the trails safe and beautiful for everyone to enjoy, and keep them from being ruined by passing along these guidelines and rules for trail ethics and etiquette so they stay in pristine shape!
Welcome to our home website for our research project concerning hiking trail ethics. We hope you choose to participate, and if so, the project will include three phases:
1. Informed consent page
2. Your rating of several nature photographs for pleasantness.
3. Your completing a few questionnaires concerning hiking, environmentalism, and spirituality.
At our laboratory we study the psychology of religion and how religion is associated with behavior, the good and the bad. And as fellow hikers, we are concerned about our own impact on the environment as we hike. Hence, this project combines a couple of our interest. We estimate that it will probably take the average participant about 20 – 30 minutes to complete this project.
We hope that our hiking trails rules, locations, maps and ethics to make sure that our hike doesn’t ruin everyone else’s, or the ecology and local environment. Peace my friends and happy trails!