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Family Fun

Make Fall Hikes Fantastic

Go the distance this season and take the family on a fun day-hike through a park or nature preserve. Whether you set your GPS to explore local land or take on a Yellowstone adventure, review these tips to be sure everyone makes the most of the magic of the great outdoors.

Plan and plan again
Research the area so you know what you’re in for. Check out the park’s website for information about trails and activities.

Know the weather.
Look into the forecast for your day on the trails and reschedule if there’s a threat of rain, extreme wind or other natural troubles.

Start short.
Make your first hike of the season a warm-up for future adventures. Explore a small local park with less challenging trails and move up to grander schemes like overnight camping and multi-day hikes.

Be water wise.
Bring your own water and don’t drink from natural water sources. That stream may look inviting, but it could also be filled with bacteria. Yes, you can cool yourselves by splashing in the stream, just don’t chance getting sick by drinking from it.

Pack smart foods.
You’ll get hungry on the trail. It’s inevitable. Pack nuts, fresh fruit and veggies for simple snacks on short hikes. For day-long hikes, bring simple sandwiches that won’t weigh you down after lunch. Remember, if it smells good to you, it could attract wildlife, so seal everything well in plastic.

Carry First Aid necessities.  
Even if you do your best to avoid injuries, sometimes accidents (and insects) happen. Know what to do in case of emergency and bring along First Aid basics like tweezers, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment packets, and a few sizes of sterile bandages.

Take along field guides.
Your hike will be much more fun if you can identify the plants, insects, and animals you see along the way. You do want to know which plants are poisonous, don’t you?

Carry a light load.
Avoid exhausting yourself before you take your first step by not overloading your day pack with heavy cameras, coats and food.

Walk wisely.
Keep your eyes on the trail for both immediate steps and those to come. If you’re walking in a line, don’t stop abruptly. Stay within sight of the group at all times. Put the slowest hiker in front and let the group go at that pace. Take regular breaks as you walk to be sure everyone is drinking water and enjoying a healthy, happy hike. Breaks will also help keep kids from exhausting themselves.

Leave it as you found it.
This applies to the trees, the earth, the animals and the vegetation you encounter along your walk. Respect what you’re among and preserve it for others. Pack out the garbage you produce and dispose of it properly.   

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