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Over Memorial Day weekend, three hikers had to be rescued out of Hocking Hills State Park, including a man who fell 15 feet off a cliff in the Cedar Falls area while taking a selfie.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), all three incidents could've been avoided if the hikers had paid closer attention to signs posted in the park that instructed hikers to stay on the designated trails.

While hiking is a great way to burn some calories, this outdoor activity also poses some risks to hikers’ health and safety, especially to those who are inexperienced. Therefore, in the interest of encouraging more people to hike responsibly, here are a few suggestions geared to help them become more prepared before taking a trek out into the great outdoors.hikers

What Essentials Should I
Take on a Hiking Trip?

Hikers should always be prepared for anything to come up when they're out in the wilderness. It's essential that they have the proper gear, such as the following:

  • A map, compass, or GPS device
  • Sun protection including sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Food & water

In addition to having the proper gear, it's also essential that hikers wear the proper attire. This attire includes:

  • A t-shirt
  • Hooded sweatshirt
  • Long pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking boots

What Are Some Tips to Hiking Responsibly?

Before hitting the trails, hikers should take some extra precautions in order to ensure their safety. Below are 10 tips to help you hike more responsibly.

  • Charge your cell phone. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged in case you need to use it for an emergency. It may also be beneficial to bring a power bank & charging cable in case your battery does die.
  • Bring a map or trail guide. Seek out trail maps and guidebooks that'll give you more information about the area you plan to hike. This will come in handy if you get lost.
  • Stay on the designated trail. Pay attention to any signs posted in the area where you’ll be hiking that are there to warn you of possible dangers. Any signs that advise you to stay on the designated path is there to help you steer clear of cliffs or drop-off areas.
  • Consider a hiking stick. By taking a hiking stick, you'll maintain your sense of balance as you walk across uneven terrain.
  • Remember the buddy system. Instead of hiking alone, invite others to join you.
  • Tell someone where you're going. It's a good idea to tell someone outside your group of hikers where you’re going and when you’re expecting to return in case something unexpected happens.
  • Stay hydrated. Be sure to stay properly hydrated throughout your hike by bringing plenty of water.
  • Dress in layers. Dress in layers that can easily be added/removed since the weather can change in an instant.
  • Pace yourself. Conserve your energy by pacing yourself throughout your hike and that way you won't become too tired early on.
  • Leave the wildlife alone. Never disturb wild animals in their natural habitat. Wild animals are wild for a reason, and you never know what could happen when disrupting them in their habitat.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, perhaps you should consider enrolling in Hocking College’s Ecotourism and Adventure Leadership Program. For more information on this program, contact Scott Kreps by email at krepss@hocking.edu or by phone at (740) 753-7151.

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