America the beautiful provides over 234,000 miles of hiking trails on state and federal land. These trails include everything from hot, sandy hikes in desert valleys to steep mountainous undertakings.
Though hiking offers an exhilarating way to explore the great outdoors, hikers should properly prepare themselves to stay safe. Read on to learn 6 common hiking mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Dressing Inappropriately
Hiking trails may expose you to all types of extremes. This is not a sport that you throw on gym shorts and sandals for.
Despite the climate, start by protecting your feet with good hiking boots and thick socks. Hiking boots provide good tread for the trail to prevent dangerous slips.
They also support your foot to prevent injuries like sprains and breaks from twisting. Thick socks keep feet warm in the cold and absorb sweat in the heat while keeping your feet from blistering.
In the cold, wear layers of clothing with a warm, flexible jacket. Failing to wear proper gloves can result in frostbite.
Though that seems like common sense, people often make mistakes with desert hiking clothing. You actually need to cover your skin in these hot conditions as well to prevent sunburn.
Wear loose, breathable pants and a cotton long sleeved shirt. Do not make the mistake of wearing dark clothing as it will absorb more heat.
- Finding Themselves Lost
When people get lost while hiking, things can get scary. Follow a trail sounds easy. But the story changes once you find yourself surrounded by nature where everything looks similar.
To keep your bearings:
- Bring an updated map
- Use a compass
- Look for distinct landmarks along the way
- Follow trail markings
- In deep wilderness, mark trees or build small Carins
Learn how to use all of these tools before attempting to take on a big trail.
- Forgetting Essentials
Forgetting things like maps, sunscreen, water, and snacks, can turn your excitement to dread. Pay attention to the elements of your hike so you know everything you might need.
Pack the hiking backpack with enough supplies to last the entire trip. Create a checklist and check it twice before heading out.
- Ignoring Sunset
Newbie hikers sometimes lose track of time in all their excitement. Getting caught in the dark means getting lost, bitten up by insects, and possibly attacked by a wild animal who hunts when you cannot see them.
To avoid this, check the time for sunset. Pay attention to the length of trails so you know how far from safety you are as you go. Head back with at least an hour to spare in case anything comes up.
- Leaving a Trace
People tend to leave footprints everywhere they go, often in major ways. Hikers will often feel the need to carve their name in trees, capture wildlife, or leave trash behind. This ruins the environment while catching wild animals puts you in grave danger.
Do your best to leave little trace. Take only pictures and leave only footsteps behind.
Don’t Make Common Hiking Mistakes
Do your best to avoid making these common hiking mistakes. Making wise decisions will make it an amazing experience for you and allow others to enjoy it in a similar way.
Are you looking to adventure a little further from home? Read more tips on our travel page!