Reading alarming news reports about hikers gone missing or being found dead on remote trails can put fear and panic into the hearts of hikers and will make some fear exploring remote areas, or worse, not going hiking at all. The chances are extremely slim something bad would ever happen, but let me cover a few good tips on Solo Hiking Tips & How to keep yourself safe while hiking alone.
Threat exists no matter where in the world you are, however the best method to guard against it is to be prepared and alert.
Here are some pointers for how to remain safe while hiking in remote locations. (info gathered from the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.)
ALWAYS tell someone your plans
Whether you’re alone or in a group, it’s a good idea to inform somebody else where you’re going and when you plan to return. (write down exact specifics)
Let your point of contact know when you will check-in. If you change your plans let them know about that too.
Know how to read a map? No? Then Learn.. and FAST!
Having a mobile phone is great, but depending on it for anything else other than the odd selfie while hiking is a mistake. Having a phone with GPS etc is great but NEVER rely only on that. Knowing how to read a map and use a compass is essential.
You do NOT need to be an expert but basic navigation and map reading skills is a must.
Buy or print out a map of your route, put it in a waterproof sealed bag, learn your route before you head out. Feeling confident you know the route and can make it to safety or at least direct rescuers to your location in the event you have an accident is a pretty powerful skill to have and will aid with your piece of mind when you head onto the trail.
Watch out for strangers and trust your instincts
If you are alone you will need to be extra cautious. Never feel bad about being rude or hurting someone’s feelings if you do not want to have a conversation with them. Most people are friendly and mean you no harm but why take the risk of finding out if they are in the tiny percentage of people who would do you harm.
Avoid individuals who are intoxicated, act suspiciously or make you feel uneasy.
Hiking alone is very popular but be extra cautious if you are alone
Solo hiking inevitably makes you more vulnerable to unwanted attention. If you are determined to hike alone then take extra care and follow this guide. Wearing headphones can be a big distraction and can make you oblivious to any upcoming dangers. Ditching them is a good idea, or at the very least listening at a low volume with one ear only.
If you bump into strangers along the way, use “we” instead of “I” when talking with people, give the impression that you are part of a group and that they are close by.
If camping overnight do not make camp next to roads or trailheads
If you are planning on camping overnight always keep away from the main roads or trailheads or anywhere where people will be passing. Keep a low profile and make yourself as inconspicuous as you possibly can.
Limiting your interactions especially at night is very important.
Keeping yourself safe while hiking the trail is your most important objective. You can enjoy all the beautiful countryside and get home safely every time just by following a few simple rules.