Whether you’re an experienced hiker or trying it for the first time, staying safe on the trails starts before you ever leave home.
Compared to other outdoor activities like off-roading or rock climbing, it’s easy to think of hiking as an easy, safe activity. And it certainly can be. But only if you’re properly prepared.
From rough, uneven, or slick trails to dehydration to flash floods, understanding the risks you might be facing on your hike will help you be prepared if they happen to you — or better yet, help you avoid them in the first place.
Planning to do some hiking during your next visit to Cougar Ridge? Keep reading to learn a few safety tips that every hiker should know.
1. Pack the Right Gear
Staying safe and comfortable on the trails starts with packing the right gear while you’re still at home.
From the right pair of hiking boots that give you support and grip on uneven or slick trails to a first aid kit, even short hikes require some specialized gear. Items you should have in your day pack or on you during your hike include:
- First aid kit
- High-protein snacks for refueling
- A paper map of the trail you’re taking
- A compass
- Rain gear
- A knife or multi-tool
- Layers of clothing you can add or remove
While it’s great to buy some new gear for your trip, try it out before you hit the trails. You’ll want to break in your hiking boots to avoid blisters. And give your clothing a test run to make sure you won’t be uncomfortable or experience chafing during your hike.
2. Always Check the Trail Conditions
Even if you’re an experienced hiker, you should never choose a trailhead and start hiking without first checking the trail’s length and conditions.
Knowing the length of a hike and its difficulty level will not only help you decide whether or not it’s the right hike for you, but will also give you an idea of how long it will take, and the kind of gear you might need. A one-mile, easy hike might not require more than a bottle of water. A lengthy 5 or 6-mile hike will take quite a bit more water, and likely some snacks to get you through as well.
If you’re planning to hike in Capitol Reef, stop by the visitor center first. There, you can talk to a ranger about the trails and conditions. They’ll let you know if there are any closures or hazards you should know about, and can also help you choose the right trails for you. You can also find information about closures and trails on the park’s website.
3. Know the Signs of Flash Floods
Flash floods are a hazard in low-lying areas throughout Southern Utah during rainy weather. But if you know what to watch for, check the weather before you hike, and practice caution, you can stay safe from rising floodwaters.
If you know that the weather forecast calls for rain, choose a hike that doesn’t cross low-lying areas or dry creek beds. If you’re hiking and an unexpected rainstorm comes through, watch for water pooling, creeks suddenly running muddy, or other signs of a flash flood.
4. Bring a Friend and Share Your Itinerary
If possible, it’s always best to hike with a friend. Even on shorter trails, having someone along can make all the difference when something goes wrong. If you roll an ankle or get dehydrated, they can help you get off the trail and to safety.
Whether you do hike with a friend or choose to go it alone, always share your itinerary with someone at home. Let them know what trail or trails you plan to hike, and what time you expect to get back. If you fail to check in with them within a couple of hours of your planned return, they can let someone know that you’re missing, and where you are likely to be.
5. Pack More Water Than You Expect to Use
As a general rule, most hikers consume one liter of water for every two hours of hiking. But if the weather is hot or the hike is strenuous, you might find yourself drinking more.
Always pack more water than you think that you’ll use. That way, if you drink more than you thought you would or are on the hike longer than planned, you won’t be left high and dry.
Planning Your Next Outdoor Adventure at Cougar Ridge
Hiking is just one of the many ways you can spend your time and enjoy the landscapes during your time at Cougar Ridge. Put these tips to work to ensure that your hikes are safe and enjoyable.
If you’re ready to hit the trails of Capitol Reef and the region’s other state and national parks, book your stay at Cougar Ridge today! After a long day of hiking, you can relax in the hot tub, warm up beside a fire, or simply relax in the comfort and luxury of your private Casita or room in the Lodge. You’ll be relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the next day’s adventure!