Talking Trail Safety
As the temperature continues to climb, it’s no surprise that local residents take to the trails to explore the ever-expanding foliage and explore the area’s natural landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re not called “the oldest, most accessible, and most culturally fascinating ranges in the world” for nothing. They’re home to over 1,400 different plant species and over 250 kinds of animals, and many enthusiastic hikers hope to see each and every one of them by hiking far and often.
But before you hit the trails, be sure to check out these five tips on how to remain safe on trails through Panthertown and the Blue Ridge.
1. Be aware. While this is kind of a given, there is an active black bear population (HERE is what to do if you encounter a bear) as well as other risk factors that could potentially be harmful to hikers. That’s why, first and foremost, you must constantly be aware of yours surroundings when on the trails.
2. Power in numbers. When going out for a hike, it’s important to always tell someone who will not be joining when and where you are headed. Make sure this person knows the tentative timeframe of your return and have a plan in place about what to do should you exceed that time. When venturing out, hike in pairs or groups if possible. Be sure to always stay together and keep smaller children in front of you and in your line of vision.
3. Pack like a scout. Carrying a pack while hiking is added weight and can add a level of difficulty to your hike, but it’s worth it. Be sure to pack extra water, snacks, basic first aid, bear spray, and other emergency equipment to take with you regardless of how long the hike is or how far you plan on going. Always be prepared.
4. Hone an age-old hiking skill. No, you might not ever really have to use it, but learn how to read and use an old fashioned map and compass and be sure to take both with you. Especially in the region of the Divide, cell service is spotty at best, so try not to rely on your phone or GPS to get you where you need to go because connection is an issue. Which leads to…
5. Pick a path. It’s fun to explore the living world around you when out in the middle of the mountains but don’t stray too far from known and marked hiking trails. You may not be able to find your way back should you leave the path.
Experiencing the beauty that is the Blue Ridge Mountains is one that will live with you forever. Get out and enjoy the gorgeous North Carolina weather and all the valley has to offer, but do so safely. For further hiking tips visit: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/trail-safety.htm.