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Hiking Safety Tips from Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest

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Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 02, 2024

AUGUSTA — Hello from the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest! Hiking is a fantastic pastime, especially in Montana.

Hiking in Montana? Follow these safety tips

With good weather on the horizon, it's important to consider some safety precautions to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience on the trail.

Plan Ahead

First and foremost, always plan ahead. Research the trail you plan to hike and check the weather forecast. For example, our recent hike was rather rainy, and planning accordingly helped us stay prepared. The National Park Service recommends informing a friend or family member of your hiking plans, as nearly 1,000 search and rescue missions are conducted each year in national parks alone.

Pack the Essentials

Next, pack the essentials. This includes plenty of water—experts recommend at least half a liter per hour of moderate activity in moderate temperatures. Additionally, high-energy snacks, a map, compass, GPS, first aid kit, and a multitool are all good ideas to have on hand.

Dress Appropriately

Appropriate clothing is crucial. Layers are key, as weather conditions can change rapidly when you're on the trail. Make sure to wear sturdy footwear and bring rain gear if there's a chance of precipitation.

Stay on Marked Paths

Stay on marked paths to avoid getting lost and to protect the environment. Keep an eye on your surroundings and be aware of wildlife, particularly bears. If you encounter a bear, make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly without turning your back.

Hike with a Buddy

While you can go hiking on your own, it's a great idea to bring a hiking buddy with you. On my recent hike, my daughter Elise joined me. We faced a few challenges, such as fording a river and dealing with lots of rain, but we eventually made it to the lookout on Patrol Mountain.

Know Your Limits

Finally, know your limits. The trail will be there another day, so it's okay to turn back and try again when the weather is better or if you're feeling too tired to continue safely.

By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in Montana's beautiful wilderness. Happy trails! To find your next Montana hiking trail check out the MTFWP website here.