The crisp, cool weather of fall makes it the perfect time to take a hike and enjoy the changing colors of the leaves here in northern Minnesota. Whether you choose to go at it alone or with company, there are always important things to keep in mind no matter how familiar you are with the land. Here are a few tips to help make your next hike a successful one.
Plan ahead. If you are familiar with the area and have done the hike before, it is always good to brush up on the trails. Find out if any minor changes have occurred due to weather, maintenance, etc. If you are new to the area, study a map before you head out and plan the best route for a successful hike. We recommend stopping by Duluth Pack to pick up a hiking map before you head out! As you hike, familiarize yourself with different landmarks that will help you distinguish where you are and talk to acquaintances you may know that have hiked the trail before. Unless it is an emergency, never stray from the already marked trails and always follow safe hiking practices.
Hit the trail early. The earlier, the better. Nobody wants to be hiking in the dark in an unfamiliar place. When you start earlier, there is also the bonus of avoiding any crowds if you are at a popular destination. BONUS- temperatures will be cooler compared to the afternoon when it is usually the warmest. A Duluth Pack sweatshirt is perfect for brisk mornings and packs light as it warms up. Plus, early mornings mean you might be able to catch more of the wildlife and the beautiful sunrise!
Share your plans. If you are heading out solo or with a group, let others know where you are heading. Explain to them your route and day plan and be sure to check in with them later. If you are in a group, do not go off solo, stay safe, and stick with a hiking buddy. If you find yourself lost, stay where you are. Stop and think, retrace your steps in your mind and think about the landmarks you have passed. Observe your current surroundings and make a plan. If you are unable to come up with a clear strategy that you are confident will bring you to safety, the best option is to remain where you are.
Dress for success. Check the weather ahead of time and pack extra clothing like a rain jacket, if there is a chance of rain later. Additional gear is not always necessary and can end up weighing you down a bit, so only take what you really think you will need! Stick to moisture-wicking activewear-like materials to make sure you stay dry and cool. Use sturdy shoes you are comfortable in and Darn Tough hiking socks for extra padding. Worn in hiking boots or tennis shoes are usually the best choices when it comes to hitting the trail.
Stay safe and be prepared. Items like a first aid kit, emergency whistle, water purifying tablets, snacks, fire starters, knife/multi-tool, and navigation tools are all necessities that should be packed in your bag for almost any hike. The amount of food and water you bring should be based on how far you plan to go, with a little extra for emergency purposes.