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Hiking Safety Tips

Put Safety First When You Set Out On Your Adirondack Hiking Adventure

Note: Please Play Smart, Play Safe, and Play Local during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more from the DEC here »

Think of an Adirondack trail as a wilderness with paths running through it. As a hiker, you are responsible for your own welfare. Therefore, certain precautions should be taken before, during, and after you begin your hike in the ADKs!

adirondack hiking

Before You Hike

  • Carry a map and a compass, and know how to use them.

  • Tell someone where you are going and the approximate time you intend on returning.

  • Wear a watch so you will be aware of sundown approaching.

  • Have a pre-arranged "turn-around" time to prevent hiking in the dark.

  • Allergic to bees? Remember to take an epi-pen.

  • Check the weather reports before you leave, and wear or bring layers of clothing. The weather can change quickly.

  • Choose a hike that is appropriate for you - don't overexert yourself.

  • Dress in non-cotton, light colored clothes. Light colors help you be seen by other hikers and help you spot ticks if they land on you.

During Your Hike

  • Sign in and out at the trailhead registers.

  • Don't travel alone if it can be avoided. It's best to stay with your party and not split up.

  • Always carry water, as well as a pocket knife, whistle, waterproof matches, flashlight, energy food, first-aid kit, rain poncho, extra clothing, emergency blanket and cell phone*. Check out what you should pack in your backpack when hiking in the ADKs »»

  • Drink water consistently throughout the hike.

  • Make sure to take water and food breaks to allow your body to rest.

  • Do not drink water from ponds, streams or lakes (unless you boil, filter or purify first).

  • Avoid swimming or wading in unfamiliar waters.

  • Be on the lookout for invasives and harmful plants, taking care to avoid them and the discomfort they may cause.

  • If you become lost - keep calm and warm, stay dry, and stay put to make it easier for a search party to find you.

Safety Tips Per Weather Conditions

Stay Safe in the Summer

  • Be aware of heat exhaustion and heat stroke - ensure that you take plenty of breaks and pack tons of water.

  • If the skies darken, the wind increases, or lightning flashes - this is likely an electrical storm.

  • If you are hiking during an electrical storm - avoid high ground, isolated trees, water and metal objects.

Stay Safe in the Winter

  • Dress appropriately for winter conditions (layer up, avoid cotton as it is inefficient for heat preservation, and bring extra clothing).

  • Keep your eye out for thin ice and be aware of snow squalls.

  • If you experience frostbite - do NOT rub the area, as this can cause further damage.

  • Test ice before putting your full weight on it. Remember the old rhyme: thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky!

*A note on cell phone reception in the Adirondacks. It's spotty... do not count on a cell phone to bail you out of a jam. Reception varies widely depending on where you are and by cell phone carrier. Even on the main street of many Adirondack communities, if you have the wrong cell phone carrier, you are out of luck. Carry a cell phone as 'something extra' - but it should be considered the least important safety item you will have in your possession.

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