Tips For Safe Fall Hiking

Fall hiking fanatics, rejoice! The season for cooling temperatures, changing colors, and spectacular views has finally arrived. As picturesque as fall hikes are, the season also brings many dangers and challenges for those looking forward to getting outdoors. Here are some things to watch for along with tips on how to stay safe:

Falling is the #1 Hazard For Fall Hikers. As beautiful as fall foliage can be, it is also potentially dangerous. Autumn brings new hazards for slipping and tripping. Multi-colored leaves blanket the trail, hiding roots and rocks to trip on. Also be on the lookout for wet leaves, especially if you hike after a recent rainfall or near a stream or brook.

The One Season Where Every Season Seems Possible. Whether you’re day hiking or overnight camping, be ready for unpredictable fall weather. Make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and pack multiple layers (including thermals and a breathable shell) if the weather suddenly turns.

Diminishing Daylight. In the equation of “there and back”, the “back” is the most important part. As the earth moves towards the winter solstice, sundown begins earlier and earlier. Maybe you were able to make it to your favorite waterfall and return to the trailhead in July, but routes or at least strategies (how early you start and/or quick you hike as well as cutting short the hike) as well as equipment will need to be adjusted in the fall.

Equipment? What Equipment? Trekking poles are excellent tools to stabilize your balance and prevent falls. Headlamps will keep your trail lit and help you navigate the road ahead. Make sure to pack extra batteries and maybe even a spare flashlight. And, no, the flashlight app in your smartphone isn’t enough.

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