Running (or hiking) out in nature requires some attention to the important trail tips that allow everyone to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Today, National Take A Hike Day, I’m here to share some of the best suggestions for making the most of your trail adventures.
Know Where You Are, Where You’re Going, and How To Get Back
Even on the “easiest” trails, it is possible to get turned around, disoriented, or even flat-out lost. Make sure you check your route on a map before heading out. Many parks have their trail systems posted at the big trailheads, so be sure to consult with it. If you have GPS service, you can always drop a pin where you are parked to ensure that you can return to your entry point. If not, follow the chart you’ve marked, or the posted markers.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Another of these trail tips that will serve you will is to remember to wear the right shoes. Where I live, in Northeast Florida, most of our trails are fine to navigate with running shoes. The terrain ranges from paved to sand to hard packed. Elevations exist, but are minimal, so no special gear is really required. However, if you are working with more technical ground, it’s a great idea to invest in a solid pair of trail shoes, with great traction.
Stay On The Trail
For your own safety, and the protection of the ecosystem around you, keep to the trail, however that may look. By leaving the known path, you not only open yourself up to getting lost, you also run the risk of damaging the surrounding vegetation, habitats and natural world.
Leave No Trace
My favorite of all trail tips is to leave no trace. Pack out exactly what you pack in, and take a moment to pick up other litter if you see it. In some cases, the park or trail system will have garbage receptacles available, or you may have to bring a small bag for trash with your in your bag for attached to your person. Additionally, as Chief Seattle famously said “Take only memories. Leave only footprints.” If you see something beautiful, take a photograph instead of the physical thing. Leave the nature in its most pristine state, for others to enjoy after you.
Even I have gone out into the wild with the best intentions, expecting to be back at my car and home before needing to replenish my nutrients. However, even if you don’t think you’ll need water or a snack, best to bring it anyway, just in case. Better to be inconvenienced by carrying something you don’t consume during your trip, than to be stuck out in the elements, far away from aid, and be in need.
As always, safety must come first. I recommend running without headphones, so you can hear everything around you (and the sound of nature can be so peaceful). Also, while it’s great to have your phone with you, stay alert. You just never know when you might stumble across an irritated animal, or be approached by someone who may not have the best intentions. Keeping your guard up is always critical.
Watch The Weather
Again, where I am, at sea level, the weather generally doesn’t change too quickly, unless it’s heating up super quickly. However, that’s not true for everywhere. Keep an eye on things like the chance of snow, lightning, flooding or mudslides, all of which can absolutely change the game of running or hiking the trails. Bring the proper layers and gear to help deal with acclimation to extreme heat or cold, and opt out of risky weather situations.
Most Of All, Enjoy!
On National Take A Hike Day, enjoy the beauty of the natural world. It’s a privilege to be able to take part in the fresh air, the greenery, and the wonder of the great outdoors. No matter what, the view is always a little more special than when you’re logging your miles on the pavement or treadmill. No matter when you’re on the trails, soak it in and appreciate every moment!
What are your favorite trail tips? Are you hiking on National Take A Hike Day?
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