Whether you are a hiking pro or new to the climbs, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared before you explore. Here in Haywood County, we have plenty of trails for explorers of all ages and experience levels to enjoy. No matter where you choose to roam, a checklist of essentials is the key to a successful hike. Check out our seven tips for staying safe during your outdoor adventures this summer season.
1. Tell Someone
It’s important to tell someone exactly where you plan to go. Having someone who knows your whereabouts is in your best interest for safety. Set up a plan to have them call for help if you don’t come back by a designated time. Having someone looking out for you is the way to go!
2.Hydrate, Bring Snacks & Essentials
Pairing exercise with the heat of the summer can quickly lead to dehydration. Before your hike, be sure that you have prepared by bringing lots of water or other hydration with electrolytes. We even suggest hydrating before you go! Make sure you also throw some snacks or protein bars in your backpack. Other backpack essentials include a knife, first aid kit, and safety whistle (which can be picked up at the visitor center for free).
3. Wear light, moisture-wicking clothing
All that climbing can cause you to work up a sweat. It’s important to choose clothes that will be both comfortable as well as functional during your explorations. Choosing light-colored clothes that reflect the sun will do you some favors. We also suggest staying away from cotton materials that retain moisture and may lead to chafing. No one likes an uncomfortable hike. Be sure to pack or wear layers—summer mornings and evenings can get chilly at high elevations.
4. Keep Track of Time
Allow plenty of time to get back to your car by dark. While the days of summer are longer, if the sun drops behind a mountain, dusk can come quicker than you expect. Be sure to keep an eye on the time and save yourself the stress of rushing through a trail after dark. We recommend bringing a flashlight just in case. Starting a hike earlier in the day when the temperature is cooler, might even be a more refreshing option.
5. Wear a Hat and/or Sunscreen
It’s important to have adequate sun protection to avoid any harmful UV rays. Protecting your head, your face, and any exposed skin will save you from the painful effects of serious sunburn. Make sure your SPF is high enough to protect you and be sure to reapply as needed.
6. Know Where to Go
A map is a good idea, but it won’t help if you don’t know how to read it. The same goes for a compass. If you’re new to hiking and haven’t used a trail map before, pick one of our easier trails to try your first time out. Even if you’re a pro, it’s best to be prepared with a navigation tool that works for you!
7. Charge Your Phone
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you hit the trails. It’s critical to switch your phone to airplane mode or turn it off when not in use. As you pass through zones with spotty service, your phone will constantly be searching for a signal, quickly draining the battery. If you must make an emergency call but can’t get a signal, seek higher ground. You’re more likely to get service up high. Stay on the trail if you can though — it makes it easier for search crews to find you.
Hikes are meant to be a fun way to explore the beautiful outdoors. Be sure to roam responsibly. If you happen to grab any stunning pictures on your journey, tag us with #HayNow or @VisitNCSmokies. Happy Hiking!