The state parks in the United States are home to more than 33,000 miles of hiking trails, according to America’s State Parks. These beautiful respites play host to over 720 million visitors a year. We often go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, from the stress associated with our offices, and to embrace the fresh air and elements we are so blessed to have on this planet.
However, what we too often wind up with are injuries from trail hiking. After all, nature still dominates on even the most well kept hiking trails throughout the state and national parks of the U.S. According to the National Park Service, 1,500 bears live around the Great Smokey Mountain hiking trails. The bears living on and around Smoky Mountain hiking areas are just one example of the dangers hikers face every time they go into the wild. If you want to protect yourself while you hike, whether you are on the Smokey Mountain hiking trails or those for Bear Mountain, then follow these three essential tips.
- Pay Attention
- Pack for Survival
- It’s Dangerous to Go Alone
The simplest rule for outdoor survival is to simply pay attention to your surroundings. As the National Park Service writes, anything that looks wet can be a walking hazard you need to pay special attention to. Utilizing boots with proper tread and a walking stick can help you negotiate these hazards. Just keep your eyes open for wet surfaces, bears, and other hazards to greatly increase your safety.
Even if you plan on a simple out and back of only a few miles on the Smoky Mountain hiking trails, the fact is that things can happen, and the situation can quickly escalate out of your control. You should be prepared. The U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation writes that anyone going on a hike should pack a flashlight with extra batteries, a surefire way to light a flame, and a cellphone with park rangers’ cell phone numbers programmed into it. If you follow rule number one, it is extremely unlikely you will need the survival goods in your pack, but you cannot be too careful. Check out the DEC’s webpage for a full survival pack inventory.
It’s dangerous to go alone, so take this piece of advice to heart; travel with a friend. Before you leave for your trip, Hiking Dude suggests, be sure to talk over your plans for your voyage. Let him or her know exactly where you are going and how you are going to get there. By educating each other, you stand a better chance of being prepared for any surprises. Further, if one of you is injured, the other can look for help and assist in getting you out of the wilderness.
Adventuring along the Smokey Mountain hiking trails is a great way to see the beauty that mother nature has in store for us all. However, if you do not follow these simple hiking tips, the trails can also represent a great way for you to get injured. Keep all of these tips in mind for a safe, exciting, and memorable journey into America’s parks.