It is autumn and the air is crisp and the leaves are just starting to change throughout the Tri-state region. Hiking is a great way to exercise while enjoying the rewarding views of the beautiful fall foliage! In fact, fall can be one of the best times for hiking as there are fewer people on the popular trails, fewer insects, fresh air and more wildlife to see. Hiking is a fun way of socializing while exercising with family and friends, so whether you’re going for a nature hike with your children or hiking a mountaintop for the amazing vista view, here are some tips to incorporate to make your fall hike more enjoyable and safe.
Remember to HIKE:
- Hike with the weather: Always check the weather prior to leaving and bring appropriate gear if it is going to rain or be cold. The temperature is different at the top of the mountain than at the bottom and the weather can change quickly so be prepared. Wear layers as fall is typically chillier in the morning and evening when the sun is not out, so comfortable lightweight layers are easy to shed when it warms up. Also remember your hat and sunglasses.
- Invite a friend: Hiking is always safer with someone as well as more fun to socialize and share the memories and views. Don’t forget your camera! Plan out your hike together by doing research on the trail difficulty level (easy, moderate or difficult) and elevation gain to ensure all in your party can safely hike the trail. If you have never hiked before or are hiking with children, choose an easy trail with minimal elevation gain and work up to hiking more difficult trails. Remember to follow the trail markers, stay on the trail, and be seen.
- Keep your body safe: Wear hiking or supportive tennis shoes to protect your ankles as hiking typically involves uneven surfaces and loose rocks. Carry your supplies in a supportive backpack with a hip strap for good ergonomics while hiking with your camera, water and food. For safety purposes, start your hike early to ensure you have enough daylight. To prevent tick bites, use insecticide as your first line of defense, wear long pants tucked into socks, stay out of high grass areas and immediately check your skin when you go home.
- Energy: It is important to hydrate so always hike with enough water and snacks for the length of your hike, even if the weather is cooler! During day hikes you need 1 liter (32 ounces) per 2 hours of hiking. Needs can vary based on weather, humidity and body weight.
I hope you go for an adventure to enjoy the fresh air, colorful views, and falling leaves that New York has to offer not far from the city in the Hudson Valley or Catskill regions.
Reviewed on August 29, 2018.
Jerome Brent Smith, PT, DPT, is an acute care staff physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).