Exploring America’s wilderness while hiking, whether close to home or while visiting a faraway national park, remains an exceedingly safe and enjoyable activity. While a few outdoor adventure tragedies have occurred this summer, American Hiking Society wants to remind hikers and outdoors enthusiasts that hiking is a very safe activity, especially when one uses common sense and is prepared.
Certainly while any physical activity in unfamiliar terrain poses hazards, so does not doing anything at all. When people enjoy an activity such as hiking, they are more likely to stick with it and achieve a better level of fitness. This activity will even reduce their risk of various illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Considering that almost 34,000 people died on America’s roads in 2009, the most dangerous part of hiking is most likely to be the trip to the trailhead.
As safe as hiking is, however, there are some very basic things people can do to make it even safer. For starters, hikers should always let somebody know where they are going and when they expect to return. For a lost hiker, doing this one thing would greatly increase their chance of a quick and safe return home. Along this same line, each hiker should review their planned route on a high quality map and then stay on the trail once they’re out there.
Additionally, hiking with someone who is an experienced hiker and, preferably, one who is familiar with the area is always a good idea. Besides, good times on the trail are always better when they can be shared. If hiking with someone who is also unfamiliar with the area, refer to a good guide book for local information such as typical weather patterns, indigenous wildlife, etc. Once out on the trail – stay together!
Certainly a must for every hike, people should always take along American Hiking Society’s “10 essentials” on every outing. A list of these items may be found on American Hiking Society’s website, www.AmericanHiking.org.
American Hiking Society encourages every American to get outside and enjoy all the natural wonders that this land offers. Just be sure to spend a little time before your hike preparing and before you know it, you’ll be out on the trail creating memories that last a lifetime.
Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas and the hiking experience. To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, visit http://www.AmericanHiking.org or call (301) 565-6704.
- World’s top hiking destinations revealed (travelnews.britishairways.com)
- Hiking Gear (tfollowers.com)
- Backpacking vs Thru-hiking (takealonghike.com)
- National Geographic and AllTrails.com partner on map website (gadling.com)
- Websites for Hiking Enthusiasts (expsychlab.com)