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5 Tips for Safe Hiking

Updated on September 20, 2012

Hiking can be an exhilirating activity, The opportunity to get out in the great outdoors and walk among nature can be rejuvenating and inspirational. However, before you venture out on a hike, you might want to take some time to think through how to do so safely. This hub offers basic safety tips for hiking.

Never Hike Alone

The first hiking safety tip is to organize a group of friends. Hiking may seem like a benign activity, but there are both open and hidden obstacles that can lead to disaster. Hiking with a group of friends and staying together on the trail will lessen the possibility for that unexpected harm could leave you in a dire state. An unexpected snake bite, a trip and fall, or sudden weather change can be disorienting. The number one hiking safety tip is to hike with a group of friends.

Buy a Map and Study the Trail

The second hiking safety tip is to purchase a map of the trail and study it. After you purchase a map, take time to become acquainted with the various landmarks along the route. The more you know about the terrain before you go, the more prepared you will be to make sound decisions along the way.

Pack the Essentials

Another important hiking safety tip is to pack important essentials. The important essentials should include: drinking water, quick snacks for energy boost, the map you prepared, compass, knife, mirror, lightweight blanket, flashlight, and materials to light a fire if necessary. These essentials will be especially important if you happen to wander off the trail and get lost and need to wait out a rescue party.

Stay Alert by Scanning the Terrain

When you finally get out on the trail, you need to remain alert of your surroundings.

First, you need to remain aware of your location. Take time to observe the trail and the landmarks which surround the trail. For instance if in the morning you are walking west and the mountain is on your right hand side, then in the afternoon when you are walking back to the point of origin the mountain will probably be on the left hand side.

Secondly, remain alert of your footing so as to prevent unnecessary leg injuries. Most trails are uneven with potholes and other obstacles. Watching your footing will save you from tripping or rolling an ankle.

Thirdly, avoid getting your feet wet if possible. When you come to streams find natural bridges, if they are available. If there are not any natural bridges and you must wade through a stream, make sure the depth is lower than your pack.

Finally, avoid areas that seem dangerous. If you come to what seems to be a dangerous area, find a new way to you destination.


If You Get Lost

Even if you have made all the necessary preparations, it is still possible to get lost on the hiking trail. The Boys' Scouts of America recommends the following technique labeled S.T.O.P. STOP is an acronym for Stay Calm; Think, Observe, and Plan. If you believe you are lost, do not panic. Sit down, take a sip of water, eat a little snack and think through your last steps. Pull out your map and compass, get oriented, and then make a plan of action.


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    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

      Great info and illustrations! Voted up and useful! :)

    • lpanfil profile image

      lpanfil 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      We did travel with a tour group but, no one came to our rescue. I ended up with mild frost bite on my toes when I went into an icy stream trying to get some water to wash down my Snicker’s bar. I also had a slight concussion from the rock slide that a goat set off above us. But, I was determined to see that glacier because in a 9 year old mind, a glacier is an ice palace. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out it is a large piece of ice on the ground covered in snow! But, it is part of our family lore.

    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California

      Thank you lpanfil for sharing your experience. I sure the time with your dad was priceless. You did hike with someone else and an "energy bar." I appreciate your encouraging words.

    • lpanfil profile image

      lpanfil 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

      When I was 9 years old my father and I hiked up a glacier with light summer clothes, tennis shoes and a Snicker’s bar – not smart. Great hub.