Tips for Hiking in the Fall

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).

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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

4 Comments

  1. Heading up to the Catskills to hike and see the Fall foliage this weekend. These hiking tips are great and just in time to make our trek safe and fun! Thanks Lisa.

    1. Hi Frances, glad to hear that you enjoyed reading this article and found Lisa’s advice to be helpful! Have a wonderful weekend in the Catskills!

    1. Hi Barb, thank you for sharing kind words regarding Lisa’s hiking advice and experience! Glad to hear that you enjoyed reading this article!

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