Fall is an excellent time to enjoy a hike in the mountains and the hills. The air is crisp, bugs and crowds have retreated, and the leaves have put on vibrant colors as they transition from green to red, brown, burgundy, yellow, and orange. However, as impressive as fall is, it bears several risks mostly occasioned by its dynamic and unpredictable weather, colder nights, and shorter days. When hitting the trail in fall, hikers need to research thoroughly, plan well, and pack appropriately to be safe. We have compiled five tips to remember when hiking during this magical season of change and color.
1. Check the Conditions
In fall, the sun sets earlier with each passing day, and it is easy to forget this, especially at the start of the season. Please check the sunset’s timing before the day of the hike to ensure you are off the trail before dark. Also, watch weather forecasts, including road, muddy and avalanche conditions. Check the snow levels, too, to be extra prepared for your hike. In other words, prepare for various weather conditions, and you will be good to go.
2. Pick the Right Trail
Start by identifying the kind of experience you desire. If you are not into a snow hike, you can explore other options like beach hikes, river hikes, and foothill parks. Confirm the trail condition with the local ranger station. You should also read recent trip reports to see what trails others have been taking and for up-to-date information on trail and road conditions.
3. Pack Well
Anytime you go for a hike, do not forget to pack.
- Extra food and clothing
- A compass and a topographic map plus the understanding of how to use them
- A firestarter and matches
- A pocket knife
- A flashlight plus extra batteries
- Sun protection
Due to the unpredictable weather, fall hikers should bring some emergency shelter and hiking poles and axes, which are great for preventing falls by stabilizing your balance.
4. Share Your Hike Itinerary
Always let a trusted friend or family member know where you are going and whether you are alone or have company. Be specific in your itinerary so that they may know where to start looking if you get lost or are injured while hiking. Make sure to let your contact know when you get home safely.
5. Remember It’s Hunting Season
Fall is the climax of the hunting season. Hence, the U.S Forest Service advises hikers to wear high visibility colors like orange, pink, and red while avoiding earth-tones and animal-colored clothing. This is because clothing makes you easily visible. Also, make your presence known by whistling, making conversations with your companions, or singing and sticking to the trail while avoiding the deep woods.
6. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Fall foliage is potentially hazardous as the leaves fall and cover the trail with multi-colored splendor that’s appealing but confusing. The leaves, especially when wet, can create slipping hazards and tripping hazards when they hide roots and rocks. In conclusion, fall is among the best times of the year to hike. Following these simple guidelines will streamline your experience to ensure you get the most from your experience.