Hiking is a popular activity here in the Pacific Northwest and for good reason: we’re home to more than 1,200 trails! While some hike year-round, without a doubt summer is the busiest season.
Here are a few basic safety tips to keep in mind as you hit the trails:
1. Select your trail wisely. Make sure that the trail you choose is suitable for the time you have, your fitness ability, and your experience. Reading descriptions and reviews can be an invaluable source of help. Is the trail well marked? Does it have significant elevation gain?
2. Research the conditions. Remember that conditions for a particular trail can vary from week to week – and even day to day! Some things to be mindful of include trail closures, weather reports, and wildfire concerns. Also consider special events such as mountain biking or trail racing. While such an event may not close the trail down to the general public, you may want to opt for a different trail to avoid the added traffic.
3. Come prepared. Even if you’re planning a shorter hike, it’s always a good idea to carry a few essentials. Always bring plenty of water (and start your hike hydrated!), food, a charged phone (plus portable charger if you have one), and a first aid kit. It’s always better to have a few extra supplies and not need them.
4. Know the etiquette. Sharing the trails and space will make things more pleasant for everyone! If dogs are permitted on the trail you’re on and you bring one, always bag and remove their waste. Make sure to keep your pet on a leash unless otherwise designated. Allow the slowest hiker in your group to set the pace. When hiking downhill, yield to uphill hikers.
5. Bring your cell phone, but don’t rely on it. As we’ve already mentioned, you should bring your phone and have it charged. But service may be limited or non-existent depending on where you’re hiking. Additionally, do not rely on your phone to be your flashlight or map. Pack an actual flashlight and map.
6. Inform someone of your plans. Provide detailed information of your plans to someone outside your party. Make sure to include details about where you’re headed, which route you’ll be taking, and when you should expect to be home. In the event you go missing, your chances of being found quickly increase if search and rescue has this crucial information!
Stay safe and have fun on the trails this summer!