10 Hiking Don’ts: Avoiding Catastrophe On The Trails

When it comes to hiking, it seems as easy as putting on a pair of shoes and getting out into the great outdoors. Rarely do we think about the hiking don’ts, a.k.a. the things we shouldn’t do hiking. It may seem negative to think about things you shouldn’t be doing rather than focusing on things you should, but in the name of safety it’s a must to think about.

Hiking can be challenging, however if you are prepared with the right equipment and knowledge, it can become a hobby that you enjoy time and time again. In order to have the best hiking experience possible you should keep in mind the 10 hiking don’ts to avoid a potential catastrophe on the trails.

1. Don’t Wear New Hiking Boots

I learned this firsthand the hard way. A friend had recommended a truly epic hike that involved three waterfalls, one in which you could slide down, and I was so eager to venture to this new location I didn’t think about the fact that I had new hiking boots on. Four hours later, my ankles were oozing blood from the blisters that exploded during my socks. Needless to say, I still have a scar and painful memory from that hike.

2. Don’t Disturb Nature

There are plenty of beautiful pieces of nature along a trail that should remain undisturbed. Avoid collecting stones, rocks, plants, or other valuable pieces of nature. Nature is meant to be preserved and should be considered someone else’s home, because in theory, it is home to many different plants and animals. Just as you wouldn’t steal from your friend’s house, you shouldn’t steal from nature either.

3. Don’t Disturb Animals

Not only is it dangerous to disturb animals you may encounter while hiking, it is also disrespectful. These animals are trying to live in peace and are welcoming you into their home; be a good house guest. Admire them from afar and snap a few photos if you must. Avoid staying away from any dead animals as this may be a food source for another larger animal.

4. Don’t Leave Trash Behind

Pack a small garbage bag so you can dispose of your trash properly and pick up after other hikers who are not following the the hiking don’ts. Hold yourself accountable for your entire group and make sure no trace of you being there is left behind.

5. Don’t Stray From The Trail

Stay on the marked path and do not wander into the unknown. Not only could you potentially find yourself in a dangerous situation (think of stepping into a mountain lion’s home, falling down a steep bank, getting lost). Only leave footprints on the beaten path rather than destroying the natural habitat and creating a new one. In fact, the US National Park Service Annual Search and Rescue Reports said 78, 488 individuals were involved in 65 ,439 SAR incidents between 1997 and 2007.

6. Don’t Be Loud

Be mindful of other hikers who may be near you. Do not blare music, scream, shout, or talk loudly with your hiking companions. Many people hike to enjoy the serene quietness of nature. Do not ruin this for them. Note: this rule does not apply if you see a mountain lion or other large animal.

7. Don’t Wear The Wrong Clothing

Prepare your hiking attire ahead of time to avoid getting too hot, too cold, or a major sunburn. Dressing in layers is advised for all times of the year. Wear light, sweat-resistant clothing that can be easily taken off and put on. Remember, what you wear can significantly impact your comfort level regardless of the season.


8. Don’t Forget A First Aid Kit

While it isn’t likely that you will be injured while hiking, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Bring a first aid kit along with you in case of injury. You may also come across another hiker that may have forgotten theirs and could come to their assistance. A basic hiking first aid kit will include: bandages of assorted sizes, butterfly closures, gauze roll, small roll of adhesive tape, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, cotton-tip swabs, antiseptic toilets, and topical antibiotic ointment.

9. Don’t Bring Odored Foods

Skip the leftovers from the night before and stick with odorless food when going on day hikes. Suggested foods include beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, and protein bars. Foods with strong odors can attract animals and cause your backpack to smell in general. There’s nothing worse than having to share your lunch with a bear.

10. Don’t Plan A Hike The Same Day

This is especially true if it will be your first time embarking on this trail. Plan the exact driving route you will take the night before, and more importantly, the trail you will take. Getting lost is perhaps the worst thing that could happen while hiking. Don’t be that person on the news that gets lost in the wilderness for days.

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