Hiking Safety

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Tips for Hiking Safely

When planning for your next hiking trip you need to think about all the ways you plan to utilize the your trip.  You need to know if you are going rock climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, biking, or any other type of out door activity.  This may sound obvious, but planning accordingly can help make the trip more enjoyable and safe.

Often times people tend to plan for a hiking trip just for a couple hours or a day, but you need to also be prepared for the worst case scenario.  If you think you are only going for a day, plan to have items for an overnight trip or extra amenities for getting lost or other unfortunate occurrences.

There are too many times we read of people going on a hiking or outdoor trip/excursion to find that they have got lost, had a bad tragedy and not have enough amenities to get them out of the situation they are in.  For the experienced outdoors person many of these tips are self-explanatory and come with the territory, but for the newbie hiker or person just now getting into outdoor activities then this information is vital.

To start the process often times people go to the internet to find the best trails near them and if you look at the previous post we did, we have information that can help you for the west coast, east coast and southern regions of the United States.  This blog post will help you plan your trips for the best most well known trails in your region of the country.

The next task you most do if figure out what do you and your family/friends plan to do while you are in the outdoors.  Hiking is just one type of outdoor activity, but many of these trails have other activities that you can partake in.  Biking is another popular activity that be enjoyed while on many of these outdoor excursions.  Just figure out the list of activities you plan to do and plan accordingly.

For hiking, you need to plan for an appropriate amount of rations (food, water, etc.).  If you plan to be there for a few hours of a day, plan to take a couple days worth of rations.  It is better to have too much than not have enough.  Plan for foods that are non-perishable and light so they are easier to carry and won’t weigh you down after you eat them.

Water is a must and should be on the top of the priority list.  While other drinks like juices are okay, nothing provides the thirst quencher like water.  Also water does not take any of your energy away like other drinks can do.  You have to make sure that you do not get dehydrated while you are outside in the sun and non sugary  drinks are best for this, which water is at the top of the list.

Have comfortable walking boots that help protect your feet and ankles from the harsh elements you will encounter on your trail.  You will most likely be walking for hours and you need to have comfortable walking shoes/boots.  Comfortable but protective clothing is another most when going on one of these hiking trails.

Plan to have some type of trash dispenser handy, whether that be a trash bag or an empty compartment in your sack.  Many of the trails have garbage cans, but you may wonder in an area where there are not many around and you do not want to litter on the trail and make it less safe for the travelers that follow you.  If the park or hiking trail has trash cans they are not likely to have the big garbage disposal units that you would find in a more urban area.  For more information on disposal units or dumpsters see your local dumpster rental location.

In addition to the clothes, rations, and some type of disposal units, you need to have location items like maps, compass, and digital equipment to help in the event you get lost.  Using your cellular phone or tablet is a start but should not be your only  means of mapping equipment.  You may wonder to an area of the park or hiking trail where there is little cellular data service and relying on a digital device in these circumstances is useless.

Pack your bag with all the necessary items: flares, utility knife, walking stick, clamps, matches, first aid kit, sun protection, etc.  For a list of all the necessary items visit this link.  Be prepared to have a regular map and compass to help guide you in the unlikely event you get lost and you do not have a  signal.  You want to make sure you have a backup plan in the event anything goes wrong.

This may sound simple but you need to tell people where you are.  When people know you are going on a hiking trip and for the length of stay, if you are not heard from soon after that then this can trigger people getting to the bottom of what happened and where you are.  When people know your location then you have a greater chance of being found in the event of an unlikely event.

Just remember to plan accordingly for your trip and be safe while you are hiking.  Becoming on with mother nature can be a lot of  fun, but can also be dangerous if you are not prepared.  If you remember safety first, you will have an enjoyable time and come home in one piece.

Top Hiking Trails in the Southern United States

Let’s take a hiking trek along the most popular trails within six of America’s southern states.
We’ll visit Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida, making this a true nature getaway for hard core southerners!
State #1: Arkansas
Locale: St. Francis National Forest
Hike Zone: Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area
Loop Length: 4 miles
From Pedestal Rock to King’s Bluff, get ready for a peppy jaunt past waterfalls, overhangs, arches and rock houses.
Pass Arch Rock and the Pedestal Rocks appear before you, giant columns that rise from the earth to support massive overhangs.
Continue on the King’s Bluff Loop and receive an eye full of gorgeous vistas.
Trek past a waterfall and arrive at King’s Bluff, a rocky slab that overlooks a lovely creek where a second waterfall tumbles over a rock ridge.
Just beyond the bluff your circuit returns you back to the trail head and your 4 mile journey is complete.
State #2: Missouri
Locale: Clark Creek Natural Area
Hike Zone: Improved Trail
Loop Length: 4.8 miles
Begin your hike at Improved Trail featuring sheer ravines and precipices at the ridge line of the Tunica Hills on the east side of the Mississippi River.
Your trek continues along some truly steep trails, past some of the more than fifty waterfalls and alongside sandy, pristine streams surrounded by saw palmetto, ferns and vines.
Finally, four miles into your trek you’ll reach Primitive Trail, aptly named since you’ll climb hand-over-hand across a rock lip at the Clark Creek Natural Area where gravel and rocks lie far below.
The good news, once your breath returns, is that you are now back at the trail head and ready for your next trekking adventure.
State #3: Georgia
Locale: Cloudland Canyon State Park
Hike Zone: Sitton Gulch
Loop Length: 4.8 miles
Take a 4.8-mile loop at Cloudland Canyon State Park, trekking a rock-rimmed gorge with sheer walls, cliff lines, waterfalls, and vistas.
Depart from the picnic area along the rim of Cloudland Canyon and enjoy near instantaneous  views.
A short side excursion into Sitton Gulch featuring now one, but two waterfalls, drop down a bluff that is close to vertical and you are now at Upper Falls featuring a large pool for hardy plungers.
Your trek will now take you across Daniel Creek through tangles of rhododendron and mountain laurel and up the west rim of the canyon
Enjoy the spectacular view of Lookout Valley where the Tennessee River stretches north from your vantage point.
Reach your second overlook with yet another gorgeous view across the canyon and you are back at Daniel Creek from where it’s a short ascent back to the picnic area.
State #4: Alabama
Locale: Conecuh National Forest
Hike Zone: Blue Spring Loop
Loop Length: 6.1 miles
Your trek departs from Open Pond across hilltops that will take you through turkey oaks, bay trees and longleaf pines, with tupelo trees emerging from the stillest waters in ponds and swamps.
Next you will trek to Five Runs Creek, and then to Pond Creek and finally Blue Spring.
Pass Alligator Hole with its beavers and, naturally, alligators and you are soon back to the trail head once again.
State #5: South Carolina
Locale: Congaree National Park
Hike Zone: Oak Ridge Trail
Loop Length: 6.5 miles
Known as the Redwood Forest of the East for its giant trees, Congaree National Park features a long (2.4 mile) boardwalk that is a trek all by itself.
Starting at the visitor center you will trek through a wetland of tupelo and cypress trees along the Weston Lake Loop Trail, arriving at breathtakingly beautiful Cedar Creek.
Proceed in the shadow of towering trees along Oak Ridge Trail where you may spot deer and wild board among the loblolly pines and white oaks.
Pass along Kingsnake Trail in sight of wetland cypress trees overlooking Weston Lake. Hop onto the Elevated Boardwalk and you’re soon back at the visitor center.
State #6: Florida
Locale: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Hike Zone: The Cathedral of Palms
Loop Length: 6.2 miles
Take the Florida Trail through a forest of tall palms known locally as the Cathedral where dense overhanging palm fronds form a roof over a section of the Big Bend.
Your first several miles take you along refuge roads (now closed) into woods filled with bay, hills of wiregrass and turkey oaks.
As you enter the Cathedral you will pass over boardwalks separating you from sunning alligators as you travel through damp woodlands filled with magnolias, cypresses, oaks and maples.
Next you will hike through Shepherd Spring and acres of beard cane, finally to complete your 6 mile hike in elevated pines, high and dry now.

Top Hiking Trails in the Western United States

For some of the most gorgeous hiking routes in the western part of America, look no farther than Highway 101 which stretches from California through Oregon to Washington state. 
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular hiking trails along the way, starting in the Golden State and heading up to Washington State.
State: California
Landmark: Point Reyes National Seashore
Stretching toward the sea just a little north of San Francisco, you will discover the Point Reyes national marine sanctuary wrapping itself around Drakes Bay.
Hike what will feel like endless trails across beaches, estuaries, creeks, spits, bays and lagoons where harbor seals spy on you from the estuaries. Then take the Tomales Point Trail two miles across a preserve of tule elk.
State: California
Landmark: Redwood National Park
Here just south of Crescent City along California’s most northern coast, hikers can gaze upon some of the tallest trees the world has ever recorded: the ancient Redwoods.
Stop by Tall Trees Grove to view the Libbey tree an isolated attraction that will require a permit to view it (most things in California, including looking at trees, will require a permit).
Wrap up your hike with a visit to Lady Bird Johnson Grove, named after the wife of one of America’s most reprehensible presidents. 
State: Oregon
Landmark: Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Get ready to hike 12.6 miles of trail along the southern Oregon coastline over beaches that hug high cliffs then cross over the Thomas Creek bridge.
Along the way you’ll see just about every coastal feature you can imagine, from canyons and cliffs to beaches and natural bridges, all the way from Cape Ferrelo at the south end of the park to Arch Rock at the north end.
State: Oregon
Landmark: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Umpqua dunes in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers some of the most peaceful solitude a hiker could ever hope for.
Stretching 40 miles along the coast of Oregon, the dunes reach as high as 150 meters above the sand, with “tree islands” sporting at the top of mini mountains of sand. 
Be forewarned that this can be tough hiking since you’ll be trekking round-trip through five miles of sand and marsh to explore the gullies between the dunes. 
State: Oregon
Landmark: Baker Beach
Baker Beach is anything but smooth sand. It’s a rough wilderness of creeks, lakes and sand dunes with wild strawberries growing up through the sand with brown pelicans around to eat them!
From here the Pacific Ocean is just a half mile away along the shore where you discover the Sutton Creek estuary, site of the snowy plover, a federally protected species. Don’t get too close or rangers with guns may approach.
State: Oregon
Landmark: Oswald West State Park
Beginning hikers take note. A half a mile of trail will lead you through red cedars an giant Douglas firs to Short Sand beach where you will discover Smuggler Cove, featuring Cape Falcon to the north and Neahkahnie Mountain to the south. 
Truly, this is the best the west coast of America has to offer, with a tumbling waterfall and splashing waves.
Another two miles of hiking and you pass through an old growth forest to the Cape Falcon headlands, a terrific spot to sight sea lions and migrating whales.
State: Oregon
Landmark: Ecola State Park
Climb six miles of trails beginning at Ecola Point with its views of Seal Rock arches, ascend to a WWII military bunker offering a peaceful view of Tillamook Rock lighthouse on a little island in the sea.
Descend Tillamook Head past hidden beaches, cliffs and thick, green forests and you arrive at the Seaside beach where golden eagles soar and elk may be watching you from afar. 
State: Washington
Landmark: Cape Disappointment State Park
Those new to hiking will not be disappointed to learn that this easy 2.6 mile  trek strolls along sandstone cliffs, past a coastal forest to Cape Disappointment where it juts out into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia river, offering a gorgeous view of Oregon. 
Plus, you get to Explore Dead Man’s cove which the kids will simply love since it’s known as “the graveyard of the Pacific”.
State: Washington
Landmark: Shi-Shi Beach: Olympic National Park
The Olympic National Park is renowned for its rain forests, home of the largest herd of Roosevelt elks in America. 
Day hikers will enjoy a trek through unsurpassed beauty along a rugged beach, across pristine Petroleum Creek, through a forest of Sitka spruce, past tide pools and sand dunes and ending up on Shi Shi beach, littered with drift wood – perfect for the collector (although a permit may be required to remove any).

Top Hiking Trails in the Eastern United States

The eastern United States offers some of the most beautiful hiking experiences in the world. We’ll begin with the two most famous long trails, then offer a serving of individual hiking trails to pique your further research.

The Appalachian Trail

One of the world’s longest continuous footpaths, the Appalachian Trail winds through fourteen states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range from Katahdin, Maine all the way down to Springer Mountain, Georgia.
Known as the “A.T.,” estimates are that 2-3 million people experience the “A.T.” every year with 1,800–2,000 attempt to hike it all the way through.

East Coast Greenway

The East Coast Greenway is a continuous urban trail that stretches along abandoned railroad corridors, rights-of-way, trail paths and even alongside highway corridors, running 2,900 miles long from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida and links together key spots like national parks, college campuses and historical landmarks.
Accessible to all and safe for all ages and abilities, from children to the elderly, it’s a mostly flat, traffic-free route for walkers and bicyclists as an alternative to cars.
For some it’s a safe place to walk, jog or roller blade. Push a baby carriage or stroll along with friends. For others it’s a wonderful place to escape to for some peaceful time alone.
Following are some individual hiking trails, roughly listed from north to south.
State: Maine
Landmark: Bigelow Mountain - Avery Peak Loop
An over twelve mile loop featuring some of the most difficult and challenging hiking in Maine. Wait until early June when ice and snow have disappeared and avoid blustery weather since much of this hike is above the tree line!
State: Vermont
Landmark: Camel’s Hump
This greater than six mile loop is likely the best major peak in all of Vermont offering stunning views from its rocky, bald summit. Be sure to wait until early June to avoid remaining winter ice and snow.
State: New Hampshire
Landmark: White Mountains - Baldface Loop
Nearly 10 miles of serious hiking over the summits of both South and North Baldface for what many call the finest hike in the hike in the White Mountains, with bounteous blueberry bushes and cliff jumping in the usually frigid Emerald Pool (so wait until the heat of summer to jump!)
State: New Hampshire
Landmark: Mount Adams
A nearly nine mile loop featuring waterfalls and a spectacularly rugged alpine view for miles in every direction. Truly a favorite with New Hampshire hikers. Wait until early June to be free of ice and snow.
State: New Hampshire
Landmark: The Bonds Traverse
A killer loop of nearly twenty miles over the three ‘Bonds’ including the peaks at West Bond, Mount Bond and Bondcliff.
offering breathtakingly spectacular views and sunsets to die for.
State: New Hampshire
Landmark: Mount Monadnock
Over 4 miles of family friendly hiking on one of the world’s most popular hiking mountains with fascinating spots to explore.
State: New Hampshire
Mount Willard
A little over 3 miles of wide open, scenic viewing of Crawford Notch, offering a terrific trek for new hikers. The fall foliage is simply spectacular.
State: Pennsylvania
Landmark: Bear Rocks and the Cliffs
A seven mile loop on the Appalachian Trail. Hike sheer cliffs along the Blue Mountain overlooking pastoral farmland with a panoramic view of pastoral Pennsylvania stretching far, far away.
State: Virginia
Landmark: Shenandoah National Park - Falls Loop from Browns Gap
A nearly seven mile loop past numerous cascades, boulder tossed canyons, old growth tulips, splendid cascades, a rocky watercourse including a stream spilling fifty feet over a solid wall of rock, all connected by the Appalachian Trail.
State: Maryland
Landmark: Catoctin Mountain Park
An eight mile loop featuring five outstanding vistas starting with Cunningham Falls, then lead through Big Hunting Creek, Hog Rock, the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, Thurmont Vista and ending with Wolf Rock.
State: Delaware
Landmark: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
An eight mile loop in the northbound Appalachian Trail up a
1,000 foot climb to beautiful Sunfish Pond. Enjoy many creek crossings and the famous water gap at Indian Head.
State: Alabama
Landmark: Conecuh National Forest
Blue Spring Loop
A six mile loop around ponds, swamps, tawny grasses, tupelo and bay trees, turkey oaks, tall high pines, alligators and beavers.
State: Georgia
Landmark: Cloudland Canyon State Park
This nearly five mile loop will take you across sheer rock walls traversing cliff lines and waterfalls offering some of the most gorgeous vistas anywhere. Hike through thickets and over huge boulders and gorges with a fantastic view across a canyon with astonishing geological detail.
State: Florida
Landmark: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge - The Cathedral of Palms
A six mile loop along the Florida Trail through bay/gum swamps, longleaf/wiregrass hills and turkey oaks. Watch out for alligators along the river banks.
We hope you enjoyed this page. Hiking is great fun for the entire family. Just remember to plan ahead for inclement weather and biting bugs. And if you plan to hike into the wilderness, there won’t be any 911 (or cell phone signal, for that matter) to come rescue you when you get chased by a black bear or an alligator, so plan ahead.