While hiking in the great outdoors of the Smoky Mountains it is best to come prepared. Hiking can be challenging but if you are equipped with the proper equipment and knowledge you can prove to have a very rewarding experience. To have the most enjoyable hiking experience you should know the 10 dos and don’ts of hiking the Smoky Mountains.
First, check the weather. The weather in the Smoky Mountains can change drastically. Keep in mind that if you are taking a trail that changes in elevation the temperature is going to change also—sometimes more than 10 degrees. 90 inches of precipitation fall in the Smokies yearly. Don’t forget to bring something to shield you from the rain. Bring layers and when possible pack things that serve multiple purposes.
Shoes are very important while hiking. Don’t wear shoes unsuited for your trip. Make sure your shoes have good support and are in good condition.
Pick out a trail that is suited best for your physical ability. The Smoky Mountains have a vast variety of trails that range from easy to quite strenuous. Most of the trails are very scenic with streams and waterfalls lurking around the corner. Don’t hike a trail that is too strenuous it will take away from the enjoyment and could prove dangerous.
Don’t hike alone. Be sure to tell someone what trail you are taking and an estimated time of return.
In addition to your trail map, bring a compass or GPS. Don’t forget to learn how to use the compass or GPS before you start hiking or else these tools will be useless!
As the saying goes, “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footsteps.” If you are hiking within the boundaries of the Smoky Mountain National Forrest everything is protected from the flowers to the rocks. Don’t touch it if you don’t know what it is! Bring a camera; capture it in a photograph instead of potentially causing harm. Removal of anything from the forest could result in a pretty hefty fine. Don’t destroy the forest for enjoyment of future generations.
Bear Aware! The Smoky Mountains are home to many black bears. While hiking one should always be on lookout for wild animals, especially black bears. The best safety tip with an encounter of a bear is to remain calm and to keep your distance. Don’t turn your back to the bear. If the bear starts to act aggressively it is demanding more space, slowly back away and create more space between you and the bear.
Make a checklist. Before packing your equipment, make a checklist of everything you will need for your trip. Don’t forget things such as, food, water, bug repellant, first aid kit and any medications you take regularly.
Anytime you submerging yourself in nature it is a good idea to plan things out. It may take a little extra time but the rewards are worth it. The Smoky Mountain hiking trails have a lot to offer every visitor. With the proper planning everyone can find the perfect trail and have an enjoyable experience. These 10 dos and don’ts should get you started on the right path. IF you would like more information, please visit tips for planning a family hike.