Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Safety and Hikes in the Fall Season

Max Patch in NC
There’s nothing better than a backpacking trip in the woods at the peak of leaf change. The air is crisp, the colors of the changing leaves brilliant, and the expectation is there for adventure and recreation. With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help your trip go smoother and more enjoyable. 

Changing Weather – Fall can be a time of changing weather patterns. From warm to cold, bright sunshine to rain, make sure you are prepared for your trip. Check the weather before you venture out. Make sure your sleeping bag is of an adequate rating and you have enough warm layers. Include a good hat. Check out this blog too for ways to stay warm when the temperatures dip and what to bring when it rains. Carry the food you will need with a day extra to spare, just in case. Bring maps and a guidebook for the area in which you will be hiking, and include a phone in case of trouble. Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia.

Wear blaze orange

Bears and Wildlife – This is the time of year when wildlife is foraging for food to keep them during the long winter months. They tend to be more aggressive and are on the hunt for food. Make sure you are using bear-proof techniques to hang your food. The PCT method works well for bears accustomed to hiker food strung up the usual way. Check ahead of time to see if there are any bear warnings for the area where you plan to hike (such as in the Smokies that routinely closes shelters for bear activity. Shenandoah National Park also can close areas to camping). Consider a bear canister or an Ursack with an odor-proof liner like an Loksak Opsak. Check out the Bear facts of the Trail blog for tips on handling black bear encounters. Don't be afraid to be aggressive though if bears are sighted near the shelter and tenting areas. Shout, bang pots, throw rocks, bark loudly like a dog (which works very well. There are even apps for your phone!). Bears should NOT be there in those areas.

Leaves and Acorns – No one would think acorns and leaves can disrupt a trip. But wet leaves make the trail slippery which can cause injury. Piles of leaves can hide rocks and other impediments on the trail. Acorns rolling under your feet act like marbles to trip you up. Take extra care on the trail when encountering these minor obstacles to prevent ankle twists or other injuries. Sometimes fallen leaves and obscure the trail. Be sure to have a map with you and a compass also. 

Hunting season - Fall means hunters are out sharing the woods and trail. Wearing blaze orange is a must. Know the hunting regulations where you will be hiking. Watch for dogs that are assisting hunters and be sure your furry pal also wears blaze orange. 

Where are the colors at their peak? Check out the fall foliage map

Finally, some top fall hikes in different states -

In the Smokies
New York and New Jersey
New England
Washington State
New Hampshire
CNN's take Includes Virginia


bartrip said...

any recommendations for a weeklong trip along the AT in early October?

Lauralee Bliss said...

My favorite fall hikes along the Appalachian Trail in early October include Shenandoah National Park, the Grayson Highlands area of southwest Virginia, and the Roan Highlands of TN.

bartrip said...

Thanks! looks like we're heading down to Shenandoah.

Adventures With BeeGee said...

Great tips. Some times it feels like fall will never show up here in Texas.

Unknown said...

I'm in the New York city area and came across your Blog. I found a lot solid information about hiking and how to prepare. Since I'm in the New York Area and close to the City, what trails would you recommend or areas, for some over night stays?

Unknown said...