One of the best parts about owning your own piece of the Adirondacks is having a network of hiking trails right in your backyard! Whether it’s a snowshoe trek through the woods or a summertime hike up one of the Adirondack high peaks, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines and safety tips for your wellbeing. As experienced hikers ourselves, below we’ve offered some of our top hiking tips!
Planning Your Adirondack Hike
Pack Your Hiking Bag
The first rule of planning your hike is to be prepared for any situation! You never know what may arise while out in the wilderness, and a well-stocked hiking bag can safe almost any situation. Consider packing a compass and map (you may not have cell phone reception on the hike), plenty of water, snacks, rain jacket, extra clothing, first-aid kit, flashlight, matches, and a utility knife.
Check Weather Reports
Sure, Saturdays afternoons are a great day and time to hike, but not when there’s a torrential downpour! When planning your hike, always consult the weather forecast so you’re not stuck in less than ideal and unsafe conditions. This includes the morning of and right before you leave, as Adirondack weather can change on a dime.
Pick A Hike Within Your Skill Level
Are you a first-time hiker? Make sure you choose a hike that matches your skill level so you don’t overexert yourself. (Or bore you if you’re an experienced hiker!) This flowchart is a great resource for helping select which Adirondack hike is right for you and your experience.
Safety Guidelines While Hiking
Keep to Trails
Trails are made for a reason. For your own safety and for the safety of the Adirondacks’ natural resources, stick to the trail. Not only will you ensure you won’t get lost or encounter unsafe obstacles, but you’ll also help preserve vegetation and animal habitats.
Hike with a Buddy (or Two!)
Don’t hike alone if it can be avoided. Hiking with others actually decreases your risk of being stranded should a situation (like an injury or unexpected obstacle) occur. If you must hike alone, be sure to at least tell a friend where you’re hiking, and when you’re expected to be back. That way, if they don’t hear from you after a certain time, they can call for help.
Be Willing to Turn Back Around
Smart hikers know when it’s time to throw in the towel and turn around. If it’s getting late, a member of your hiking party is injured, or a storm rolls in, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hiking is about the experience of being in nature–not just making the summit–so be prepared and willing to turn back if the need arises.
Seasonal Safety Tips
When hiking in the winter months, remember to dress warm, as the Adiondack winter temperatures can go below 0 °F! Layer up to start, as you can always remove articles of clothing if you get too warm. Always bring additional clothes in your pack. Frostbite and hypothermia are real risks out here!
As always, watch out for slippery surfaces, especially ice during winter. And if you have to cross ice during your hike, test its strength with your foot before putting your whole body weight on it.
When hiking in the summer months, hydration is key. The hot and sunny Adirondack days bring high temperatures and lots of sun exposure which can lead to heat stroke and exhaustion.
Thunderstorms also pose a threat. If you see lightning, or the signs of a thunderstorm approaching, stay away from high ground and isolated trees.