Why Hike At Night?

For the uninitiated, going on an advanced or even moderate hike can seem like an intimidating task.With that in mind, it’s more than fair to say that a night hike could appear downright daunting.

But fear not my friends; I’m here to tell you that – even for the untested – going on a night hike is nothing to be worried about.

Night hikes are incredibly fun; there’s an air of mystery that makes them addictively exciting and enjoyable. They offer a whole perspective on the amazing outdoors and provide unforgettable views of the night sky on clear, cloudless nights.

But fun aside, night hikes are also incredibly safe so long as you’re willing to take some pretty basic precautions. To help you focus on the positives and get over any potential concerns, I’m here to introduce you to the rules that regulate the totally awesome world of night hikes.

Chose Your Trail Wisely

Whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth, choosing the right trail is the most basic part of having a great experience, so pick a trail responsibly.

What does responsibly mean?—Well, as a general rule, the wider the trail the safer you’ll be. Ideally, you’ll be doing your first few night hikes on fire breaks, service roads or other broad, well-groomed trials.

If you’re not sure whether a trail meets those requirements, try reaching out to your local park service and ask them to recommend some “beginner trails.” (Also, when you’re talking to the park service, make sure the trail you’re choosing is in an area that is not only open to the public, but also open during the night.)

Now I know what you’re thinking – but I’ve been on dozens of day hikes before, why do I need to do a beginner trail for my night hike?

Well, if you have some hiking experience under your belt, you know that intermediate and advanced tracks, though fun, are often narrow, steep and littered with obstacles. Footing can be unsteady and falls from switchbacks can be dramatic.

Couple those hazards with a lack of light and you’re left with a recipe for disaster. 

Take Proper Equipment

Having chosen the right track, the next step in planning a successful endeavor is choosing the right equipment.

If you’re taking a basic, beginner trail, you won’t need anything fancy; just a few core essentials including water, quality footwear, appropriate outerwear, a source of illumination and a cell phone or GPS radio just in case of an emergency.

For those in need of further explanation, quality footwear means comfortable shoes with adequate ankle support and thick, cushioned socks.

How much water?—At least one liter.

Your Illumination source will ideally be something you can switch on and off with ease – you want to see the stars don’t you??? – like a headlamp or flashlight. Though some hikers have been known to use their cell phones or Zippo lighters, these sources are less reliable and convenient.

Even if the weather is hot, always take a light wind/waterproof layer in your bag. If the weather takes a turn of the worse, moisture and wind chill are going to be your two biggest enemies. Is it ideal to carry a jacket for a 3-hour night hike in the summer?—No. But it’s better to deal with a slight inconvenience than get hung-up in a decidedly dangerous situation completely unprepared. 

Tips and Tricks

Here are some supplementary tips and tricks to help you have an awesome experience:

  • Insects are creatures of the night. If the area you find yourself in has a hearty supply of bugs, particularly mosquitoes, consider applying some insect repellant.
  • Carry a utility tool like a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman.
  • Avoid hiking alone—Save the solitary treks for when you’ve become a night hike expert.
  • Know the environment—If the area in which you’ll be hiking has prominent wildlife (wolves, bears, mountain lions, deer, wild boar, etc) be prepared for any potential close encounters.

All tips and tricks aside, just remember to have fun with your night hike. Keep a positive attitude and you’ll undoubtedly have a positive experience!

 Tips & Tricks for Night Hiking.
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