Tips for Hiking Solo
Exploring the great outdoors offers a unique sense of solitude, peace and accomplishment. There’s no better place than Michigan to hike new trails and explore the unknown. But if you’re thinking about a solo adventure, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Hiking by yourself has its perks—you can travel at your own pace and be alone with your thoughts—but it also poses some safety risks. Here are some good tips and guidelines to follow if you head out to explore alone:
- Take a popular path: The most-traveled routes are usually marked well, so you won’t get lost, and if you get injured, other hikers will be there to lend a helping hand.
- Carry a trail map: Become familiar with the trail and the trailheads before you begin your trek. Map out where the ranger stations are, where there is opportunity to refill your water bottle and where campsites are located if you are staying overnight.
- Tell friends and family about your whereabouts: Always let people know where you will be hiking and when you will be returning home. This ensures that if something goes wrong, a loved one will alert authorities if you haven’t returned safely. Remember—more often than not, your cell phone will not work out on the trails.
- Become friendly with the ranger station: Park rangers are your friends! Before heading out, have a conversation with the park ranger. They will offer tips and tricks for navigating the terrain. And don’t be afraid to alert them if something happened that made you feel uneasy on the trail or if you encountered a safety concern.
- Check the weather: If a thunderstorm is on its way, it may not be the best day to explore the trails. It is always a good idea to dress in layers, and a hat and gloves will help keep you warm if it gets chilly (temperatures can dip quickly when you’re out hiking).
- Pack smart: Hiking trails can be a haven for bugs and pests. Be sure to pack a hat, bug spray, sunscreen and an extra pair of socks. Also bring plenty of water, some protein bars, sunglasses and a parka if rain is in the forecast. If you are planning to stay overnight or return at dusk, a flashlight will help guide you through the trails and matches will help start a fire to keep you warm.
- Be alert: Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert. Unfriendly hikers and wildlife can pose a risk and being aware of who you are on the trail with (critters included!) is key. Trust your instincts—most of the time, your gut is right.
- Know your ability: If you’re new to hiking or vigorous activity, it may be a good idea to start off on a moderate solo hike. Test your hiking and camping skills on a day hike before planning an overnight trip or week-long adventure.
Where are your favorite solo hikes in Michigan? Let us know in the comments below! And if you like this post, you may want to check out the following:
- Hiking in Michigan: Where to Go and How to Start
- The Best Trails to Backpack in Northern Lower Peninsula
- A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking Michigan’s Manitou Islands
Photo credit: Piola666