HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It's the perfect time of year to take a trip to the great outdoors. But as you seek adventure, Land Trust of North Alabama also wants you to take precautions.
Here are some hiking safety reminders from Land Trust of North Alabama to help you and your family remain safe while hitting the trails.
- Let someone know where you’ll be hiking and/or bring a friend. Not only will having someone with you help keep you safe, but it's also more fun to share the views with friends.
- Fully charge your phone before heading out.
- Pack a hard copy of a map and bring a compass. It's important to know how to use a map, compass, or GPS device. Following trail paths can sometimes be confusing and you if you are new to a trail it can be easy to get disoriented. Having a map is a great way to ensure you stay on the path. Downloadable PDF trail maps are available on each Land Trust of North Alabama preserve page. GPS on your phone can be helpful but consider bringing a paper copy in case your phone dies or gets wet.
- Water is essential. Drink up before the hike, during, and after. Always carry water with you while on the trail.
- Wear appropriate clothing. The Land Trust says that A long-sleeved shirt and light-weight nylon pants are a good idea as well as some sturdy shoes. And don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Carry out what you carry in. Help keep the trails clean by picking up trash. Bring along a garbage bag and plastic gloves.
- Don’t disturb the wildlife. Remember that it is their home. Observe and enjoy wildlife and plant life but leave them undisturbed. Picking, collecting, or damaging living plants, trees, artifacts, and critters is not allowed on Land Trust property.
- Hiking Stick: Consider bringing a hiking stick, especially to assist on steep or rocky trails. They are inexpensive and can help you keep your balance to avoid injuries.
- Valuables: Leave them at home. Trailheads are naturally somewhat isolated spaces so be aware. Lock your car and keep valuables out of sight.
- Snakes: Keep an eye out for snakes. Please remember this is their natural habitat so please do not harm them. Snakes are often found sunning on rocks or trails or may hide under debris or in shady spots. Always be careful when stepping over obstructions or reaching into or around logs and rocks. If you encounter a snake, back away slowly and give them plenty of space. Chances are the snake will simply warn you or head the other way.
- Ticks: Always check yourself and pets for ticks after hiking. But in order to avoid them, we suggest using a bug spray with DEET, permethrin, or picaridin. Wear light-colored protective clothing and tuck your pant legs into socks. Stick to the trails to avoid areas that ticks commonly reside, like tall grasses. If you find a tick, use tweezers or a tick key to remove it within 4 hours to reduce risk of infection. Make sure to remove the tick’s head from the site.*Pro Tip! Bring a sticky lint roller and roll it along your clothing at the end of your hike to pick up any ticks that might be hanging onto the fabric or too small to easily spot.
- Wet Trails: Please do not hike, bike, or horseback ride on muddy trails. Besides being extra slippery, this can create ruts, erosion, and other trail maintenance problems.
- Pets: Pets are welcome on all Land Trust nature preserves but must be kept on lead to ensure their safety and in consideration of others. Please remember that a variety of wildlife call these natural spaces home. By keeping your pet close to you, you can ensure it doesn’t cross paths with other animals or simply frighten fellow trail users. Horses who share multi-use trails at some preserves can be startled by dogs. Just in case, your dog should also wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information.