DON’T HIKE ALONE. You could become lost or injured.
LET SOMEONE KNOW where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Sign in on the trailhead register, and carry ID.
PLAN AHEAD. Select trails based on your level of physical fitness. Check maps and trail guides. Don’t rely on a GPS–bring a map and compass.
STAY ON THE TRAIL. Most trails are marked with signs, paint blazes on trees, etc. You could get lost or hurt off the trail, and damage fragile ecosystems. Stay off waterfalls, which can be very slippery and dangerous. Keep off private property and out of enclosures.
DRESS PROPERLY. Wear sturdy, supportive hiking shoes. Dress in quick-drying layers that can be swapped out. Dress kids in bright colors. Ensure everyone brings a waterproof layer such as a rain jacket.
FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE AREA. Don’t start fires or set up campgrounds if it isn’t permitted.
BE PREPARED WITH BASIC SAFETY GEAR, even for a short hike. Bring a whistle and a basic first aid kit, and matches or a lighter. Keep track of where you are, but remember that cell phones may not work. Bring a headlamp or flashlight in case the hike takes longer than anticipated, or for drawing attention at night.
BRING PLENTY OF WATER AND FOOD. Don’t drink from streams unless you have a method of purifying the water.
PACK OUT WHAT YOU BRING IN. Never leave garbage out on the trail and attempt to “leave no trace” that you were there – be respectful of nature and leave things where you found them.
HAVE A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT PLANTS TO AVOID. Learn to identify poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. They can all cause a painful, itchy rash.
IF YOU GET LOST, stay in one place, and stay warm and dry. Draw attention with bright colored clothing, a flashlight, and/or your whistle.
WHEN HIKING WITH A DOG, bring a leash and enough water, and make sure your pet is wearing an ID collar. Always pick up after your dog.
REMEMBER SUNSCREEN AND BUG SPRAY. Once you get home, check yourself over for ticks.
Following these tips will make sure that you have a great time on each hike and are able to be out on the trails for many years to come!
Ticks and Lyme Disease
Always check yourself over for ticks when leaving the woods. Deer ticks carry Lyme disease, which can make you very ill. Visit the American Lyme Disease Foundation website for more information about deer ticks and symptoms of Lyme disease. The characteristic red bull’s-eye rash, flu-like symptoms, and/or pain in the joints are the most common symptoms, and usually appear within a few days to weeks of exposure.
Wear bug spray to prevent tick bites, and wear lighter-colored clothing to make them easier to spot. Ticks tend to be found most often in tall grasses, damp areas, and near streams. Wear a hat, long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks in areas where ticks are a big problem.
Check behind the knees and in your hair for ticks, which are two of the most common places. If you discover a tick on you, remove it with tweezers by gripping the tick as close to your skin—and as close to its head—as possible, slowly pulling straight out and back, and make sure that no parts of the tick are left inside the body. Clean the area with antiseptic. If you are concerned that the tick could have been carrying disease, save it in a plastic bag for analysis.