Fall has officially arrived, and it brings some of the best weather for hiking in our beautiful corner of the state! Immerse yourself in the vivid golds, reds and oranges that paint our Ozark landscape every year. Before you head out the door, keep these 15 tips in mind to ensure a safe, enjoyable trip on the trails.
1. Don’t hike alone – have a partner in case of emergency. If you must hike alone, be sure to share your plans with a friend or loved one who knows where you are, and when you expect to return.
2. Know how to get to your destination. Take a map and compass with you. Know where to find water, and have that marked on your map.
3.Always look at the weather forecast ahead of time, and wear layers you can remove.
4. If you plan on taking your dog, check if dogs are allowed on the trail, and follow leash laws.
5. Know your capabilities. Take it easy on your first hike. Altitude, climbing and heat can make hiking more difficult than anticipated.
6. Safety is of the upmost importance. Stay on the trail and don’t take switchbacks.
7. Consider hiking poles to take the stress off your knees and thighs.
8. Take a backpack with necessary items, but keep it light as possible. Water and food should be the heaviest things you pack. Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray and a basic first aid kit are good to carry along as well.
9. Save your energy – stop once every hour for 10 minutes even if you don’t think you need a rest.
10. Never hike on an empty stomach. Be sure to eat before, during and after your hike.
11. Choose snacks that are filled with carbohydrates and salt. Carbs give you energy while salts help keep your electrolytes in check.
12. Always carry your trash with you, never leave litter on the trail.
13. Drink before you are thirsty. For every hour of hiking, plan to drink half a quart to a quart of water.
14. Assume it will take twice as long going uphill as down.
15. Plan to end your hike before sundown. If you do end up hiking in the dark, bring a flashlight with extra batteries for a headlamp.
Looking for a place to get outside and hike? Don’t miss the more than 8 miles of trails at Kessler Mountain Regional Park, located off of Cato Springs Rd in South Fayetteville.