Before You Hit the Trail: Five Fall Hiking Tips - VSSL Direct

Before You Hit the Trail: Five Fall Hiking Tips

September 29, 2017

Fall brings cooler temps and gorgeous scenery to much of the country. It’s the perfect time to get out on a favorite or new trail. But autumn’s transitional nature requires preparation and mindfulness. Whether you’re a grizzled vet or a weekend warrior, it pays to heed Han Solo’s advice: “Don’t get cocky, kid.”

 Here are five things to remember if you’re headed out to enjoy the leaves or revel in the nippy air.

  1. The days are shorter. It’s easy to lose track of time and find the daylight fading with miles to go before you rest. Start your fall hikes earlier in the day, think carefully about how long your jaunt will take, and be sure to pack an emergency flashlight.
  1. The temperatures and weather can be volatile. Depending on location and altitude, the mercury can drop as much as 20 to 30 degrees during a fall day, especially later in the season. If it’s chilly when you start out, dress in layers. Even if it’s sunny and warm, keep that hoodie and rain gear in your daypack. Carry an emergency shelter kit just in case the weather goes really sideways.
  1. Gear goes stale. When you pull your hiking stuff out of the closet, take some time to assess its condition. Replace the flashlight batteries. Check boot laces for wear. Make sure your first aid kit supplies haven’t expired. If it’s an overnight hike, pull out your tent, set it up, and check for rips, leaks and missing pieces.  
  1. You still sweat. The summer heat may be gone, but dehydration is still a risk. Drink plenty of water before and during your walk in the woods.
  1. Yes, that was a gunshot. Fall is hunting season in many places. Familiarize yourself with when and where hunters may be active. If your trail passes through their turf, let your presence be known. Make noise and wear bright clothing.

The Boy Scouts say it best, Be Prepared. They weren’t talking specifically about fall hikes, but the wisdom applies. A little planning and forethought will go a long way towards making your autumn outing more memorable than regrettable.