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How to Safely Walk and Hike in Streams, Creeks and, Small Rivers

Updated on March 11, 2015
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Missing Link is originally from rural Ohio. He currently lives in Hillsboro, OR. with his Wife and two Sons.

Walking in creeks was a favorite past time when I was younger and I got good at it and learned a lot. It was fun. I'll give you some pointers to do this safely while having a wonderful time.

Things You'll Need:

*drinking water
*a snack

Shoes, shoes, shoes. You need an old beat up pair of tennis shoes that you don't care much about. You need a pair that you might otherwise consider throwing away or giving to charity. Don't ever walk any distance in a creek bare footed. You could cut your foot on a sharp rock, step on glass, stub your toe, etc. Yes yes, I know many of us have walked in creeks bare footed and if nothing happened you were just lucky. Shoes are the most important thing.

Shorts are better to wear than long pants. I never took a backpack but a small backpack would be ok I suppose. The more freed up and lighter you are the better.

Take some fresh water. You can have a military style, canvas like belt around your waist with a canteen or two attached. For men, a shirt is optional though be aware of the possibility of sunburn. You can take a small snack in a zip lock plastic bag or something similar. Again, take as little as possible.

I suggest going by yourself to have the most, peaceful, meditative kind of experience though if you want to go with a friend or loved one I suppose that is ok.

Tell someone before you leave where you are the unlikely event you turn up missing or don't come back. Nowadays we have cell phones so if you can find a way to take a cell phone and keep it waterproof that is a very good idea.

Critters will pretty much be scared of you or you will easily see them. The biggest annoyance in terms of other life forms will be an occasional bite or sting from an insect. In rural Ohio a horsefly could inflict a painful bite. You would not even know it was on you until it bit you and drew blood. This didn't happen very often though.

Ok, you should not walk in a creek infested with alligators and crocodiles; use common sense.

Rocks with algae on them can be very slippery. You will occasionally come upon a deeper pool. Walk slowly thru these areas and feel your way along. You should know how to swim or dog paddle in case you accidentally get in over your head. If you don't know how to swim and find yourself getting into a deep area you can temporarily go on land, walk around the pool, and then get back into the creek.


You should rest a few times. You may occasionally pass under a bridge or see a nice area on the bank. These are nice places to take a little break.

If you walk far enough you may find the creek getting bigger in every respect. It may start to look more like a small river.

Don't overdo it. After walking several miles, you can either walk back to your starting point via the same creek or get out, walk to a nearby road, and walk your way back via the road. You also could use the cell phone to have a friend pick you up by the road or by a bridge. On some of my walks I passed thru a few small towns.

If trespassing is a potential problem or issue consult the land owner first. We didn't as kids but as an adult I realize we probably should have.

Walking creeks is not as dangerous as it sounds. I walked and hiked many, many miles of creek and never, ever had a problem. Use common sense. You can see many wonderful things and have a peaceful, meditative experience. You can see critters of all kinds, plants, trees, cliffs, rocks, a washing machine, and many other things. You can hear all kinds of nature sounds and experience many different smells.

The peace, solitude and beauty are wonderful. It is lots of fun too!

Have you ever taken a walk or a hike in a stream or creek as described herein?

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