Fall is an amazing time of year to get outside for a great hike, whether you’re with your family, your friends, or setting out on your own. The weather can be bright and clear and – in many places across the country – the fall foliage may offer a welcome (and breathtaking) change of scenery.
However, as is always the case with outdoor activities that may take you a little more off the grid, it’s also important to remember that every change of season comes with a whole new set of challenges that may need to be incorporated into your hiking plans. To help you get started, we’ve put together a few tips that we feel are good for hikers of any area or skill level. Keep these in mind as you get ready to set out on those beautiful, crisp, fall hikes ahead.
There Will be Decreasing Daylight
Autumn may usher in those red and yellow leaves we all look forward to seeing, but the further into the season, the less daylight you’ll have available. Keep the earlier evenings in mind as you plan your excursion, allowing yourself plenty of time to get to and back from your destination for day hikes or with a solid camping plan and the gear you’ll for longer treks. Headlamps or flashlights are a good addition to your gear whether you plan to be out long enough to need them or not. You definitely won’t want to get caught in the dark without them.
Heads Up – Fall Is Also Hunting Season
Many outdoors enthusiasts may already be aware of this, but a reminder can’t hurt and it bears repeating for newcomers – fall is also hunting season for deer, elk. and other game animals in many places. Sharing the trails with hunters shouldn’t be difficult if you stay aware and take proper precautions. Choose bright visible clothing – you don’t need to be in head to toe neon, but a bright orange or yellow vest or hat can’t hurt. Be sure you know what can be hunted and when in the area you’ll be hiking, stay alert to any animal activity or nearby sounds of hunters such as calls – if you do hear or see a hunter, don’t hesitate to make yourself known. If you can hear them, a shout should carry to any hunters in the area.
Keep a Watchful Eye on the Weather
The weather changes in the fall tend to be a little less predictable in general, making it even more important for you to keep an eye on the forecast leading up to your trip. Depending on where your hike will be, conditions could be prone to shifting quickly from perfect and pleasant to uncomfortably rainy, cold or both. If you’re willing to brave a little weather, all necessary precautions are a must – the right boots and socks, the right amount of layers, other outerwear and headgear can make all the difference. If there’s any chance that conditions might become dangerous, weigh your experience and options carefully before setting out – and remember that rescheduling may be best in some cases.
Take the Essentials and Tell Someone
You know what we’re talking about – your map, compass, pocket knife, matches/fire starter, first aid, water bottle and food, and your flashlight or headlamp. An emergency shelter is a good addition for fall hikes due to the less predictable weather and shorter days. And finally, as is always the case for hiking, regardless of the season, remember to let someone know where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be there.