3 Spring Trail Safety Tips
A good spring hike is the ultimate cure to the winter blues. And in the woods of Maine, this time of year is optimism incarnate; a life-affirming experience like no other. The forest comes alive as winter melts away into crashing waterfalls and clear vernal springs. Majestic wildlife dances on the perimeter of your view, and fresh young buds soak up the sun.
It doesn’t take a philosopher to make some deep connections here.
Add that to the many health benefits, and it’s no wonder a spring hike is a one-two punch of positive vibes and feel-good flow. But even though winter is finally on its way out, backcountry survival skills are as important as ever- so read up and stay safe:
Stay Warm & Dry
After a long cold winter, a sunny day in the 40s can feel like a tropical paradise, so it’s tempting to leave the layers at home, and saunter out in shorts and sneakers for a day trip. Don’t do that. In the mountains, weather can change quickly and without warning, making spring a risky time for hypothermia- or at the very least, a really uncomfortable hike.
The right gear makes all the difference. Dress in light, waterproof layers, and bring an extra pair of socks and base layers. Footwear is crucial! Waterproof boots are a spring hiker’s best friend- the taller the better.
Stay on the Trail
Professionally built trails are designed to be used. On a hardened tread surface, foot traffic and bike treads make little impact- but the ecosystem just off the trail is a whole different situation. It can be tempting to step off the trail to avoid flooding or a downed tree, but just don’t do it. The forest floor is a complex, sensitive eco-system, and a few misplaced footprints can make a big difference.
To see what we mean, check out this video with Savannah Steele, Trails Manager at Maine Huts & Trails.
Make a Plan
Mapping out your adventure is all part of the fun- so take your time plotting your route. Most trail systems keep their conditions up to date, (see ours here) so it’s easy to check out the report before you go. And even if you have a great sense of direction, you should always bring a map. If you end up off course, a map and compass could make all the difference. Finally, share your plan with someone- if you get in trouble on the trail, they’ll know where to send help.
Hiking isn’t always an adrenalin rush, so it’s easy to forget that even a walk in the woods can turn dangerous if you’re not prepared. And while hiking is overall one of the best things you can do for your longevity, a simple mistake could have big consequences. So stay safe, have fun, and hit the trails!