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  • Writer's pictureTrail Guide Joe

5 Tips for Spring Hiking

Updated: Mar 28, 2021

Winter's end is nearing and spring is around the corner! Hikers of all skill levels will be hitting the trails as the weather warms. So what do you need to know to make the best experience you can while exploring the great outdoors? Use these 5 tips to help make your next spring hiking trip the best it can be!

Be Aware Of Wildlife

Spring is a time for reemergence! Reemergence of plant life, reemergence of wildlife, and you've got cabin-fever and are ready to reemerge yourself! But wait, wildlife is reemerging too? Of course! Many reptiles and animals that typically hibernate will likely be out and about as well. Keep your eyes open not just for bears but for mountain lions, snakes, and other potential dangers. If these predators are out and about in summer and fall, why is spring more of a concern? Great question! Having just woken up from hibernation can be a disorienting feeling not to mention how hungry you might be after taking such a long sleep. They will be looking for new sources of food and you don't want to be mistaken as that source of food or putting yourself in danger by being too close.

Be Mindful Of The Weather

Spring is known for bringing about above average rainfall. Be mindful of where your trail is leading you. Steer clear of dry creek beds and gullies that could suddenly fill with a torrent of water in a flash flood event. Keep in mind, you don't have to be in the rain to be affected by it. All that water has to go somewhere and if you are downstream, you could be caught off guard having never seen a drop of rain fall.

More than just rain, the changing of the seasons brings a change to the dominant airmass. Where cold air was king, now warmer air is taking over. The mixing of hot and cold air masses brings a somewhat violent exchange with it in the form of thunderstorms. These storms can be quite severe bringing lightning, heavy rains, hail, and possibly tornadoes if your area is prone to this sort of weather. Plan accordingly and don't get caught out in the open!

Come Prepared With Food And Water

It's no longer winter, the temperatures are higher as is the humidity. You know you're losing water if or when you break a sweat so of course you know you need to replenish your fluids while you're hiking! Why wouldn't you? OK, glad that's settled! Wait.. how much water should you bring? Great question! For long or arduous hikes, such as while backpacking, you'd want to bring enough water to consume at least 1 liter of water per hour. For an easy to moderately strenuous hike, bring enough water to consume at least ½ a liter of water per hour.

Dress Appropriately With Proper Clothing & Shoes

OK, winter is over, temperatures are more manageable. This should be a lot easier to handle, right? Sure! However, there are some considerations you should make. For instance, did you know bright, flowery colored clothing can draw bugs to you? Perhaps you aren't a fan of bugs, especially the stinging variety, then you might want to avoid looking like food to them as well.

This one might be easier to assume but, following the cold and snow, spring brings a rather messy thaw. That means mud and lots of it. Definitely bring your boots as you'll need the aggressive tread for traction especially on inclines. It wouldn't hurt to bring a hiking stick or trekking poles for stabilization on the more slippery parts of the trail. Just remember to check with local regulations as to whether your trail is open in these conditions.

Watch Out For Plants

Watch out for plants? OK, what's this guy talking about... there aren't man-eating plants, right? I'm talking about poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and other rather treacherous plants that will begin popping up all around and if you're not careful, you could be walking into a rather uncomfortable situation! Your best course of action is to stay on the trails and avoid taking shortcuts, or bushwhacking, whenever possible. Well maintained and regularly trafficked trails are less likely to have areas of overgrowth of these plants and so you should be rather safe on your hike. Further more, taking the time to learn about these plants and how to identify them will go a long way in keeping you safe and happy in case you do have a run in with them on the trails!

Happy Trails!

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