Plan Your Hike and Be Safe Outdoors

Plan Your Hike and Be Safe Outdoors

Hiking is a wonderful way to see and experience the many wonders of our nation’s forests. Visit your forest’s ranger district office, our All Maps page, or National Forest Store(link is external) to obtain a trail map to help you plan your route based on your ability, available time and interest. Please follow these safety tips to ensure a safe journey: 

kid safety
  • Stay on marked trails.
  • Don’t hike alone. Let the slowest person in your party set the pace. This is especially important when children are a part of your group.
  • Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member and check in with them upon your return.
  • Develop an emergency plan before you start your trip. Make sure everyone knows what to do if they become lost or a medical emergency arises. Give children whistles with the instructions to "stop and blow" if they become lost.
  • Take frequent rests or vary your pace to maintain your energy level.
  • Drink plenty of water, even on cool, wet days. Never drink your entire supply between refills.
  • Wear appropriate clothing, including sturdy boots that are broken in and are comfortable.
  • Consider using a hiking pole or walking stick to help maintain your balance in unlevel or hazardous areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and pre-plan your approach before hiking through more hazardous areas. Wet surfaces can be a hazard and even more so if it's on a slope.
  • Consider what you'll do if you start to slide or fall so that you are prepared.
    • If falling, do not try to catch yourself; try to avoid landing on your hands, elbows or knees. Landing on the side of your body is much safer.
    • If the slope is such where you know you are going to slide, lowering your center of gravity, by sitting down and sliding on your feet or bottom, is safer.
    • If sliding while standing up, keep your weight over your feet and bend your knees—do not lean back or forward while sliding.
  • If on a day hike, extra weight wears you down and reduces your agility over uneven terrain. Pack as light as possible. Leave the extras behind, but consider bringing these essentials:
    • Map
    • Sunglasses and a hat
    • Sunscreen
    • Flashlight
    • Waterproof matches
    • First aid kit
    • Water and water-purifying tablets
    • High-energy bars, granola, candy, or fruit
    • Extra clothing. Temperatures can change dramatically, particularly if there is an elevation change. For every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, the temperature often drops three to five degrees. 

Get outdoors and Enjoy the Adventure!


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