While hiking in the rain may not be on your list of preferred activities, it may be a serene and unique experience. Trail skill requires the capacity to be dry and comfortable in inclement weather.
Hiking in the rain requires special attention and awareness. When traveling through slippery terrain, be extremely careful not to fall. Other risks include fallen trees along the trail and strong river crossings.
Continue reading this article to learn how to hike safely in the rain!
How To Hike Safely During The Rainy Season
Hiking in the rain is a beautiful and serene experience. The fresh smell of rain on the earth, the sound of raindrops in the trees, and mud-soaked boots; what could be better?
Hiking in the rain is an activity that requires preparation and awareness to ensure it’s both safe and enjoyable for all members of your hiking party. Here are a few tips we hope will help you and your hiking group safely hike during the rainy season:
1. Have A Plan For Your Hike
If you haven’t hiked together before, it may be a good idea to talk about your hiking plans first. Discussing how long you want to hike, what type of trail you plan on hiking (e.g., paved trail vs trail with natural obstacles), and other information helps ensure that your hiking party is comfortable with the pace and condition of the hike.
Be sure to let another person know where you are going and what time you will return. If your hiking party is late returning, they can notify this person who can then alert search & rescue personnel if necessary!
2. Dress Appropriately For The Weather
Wear clothing that can absorb and disperse water. Synthetic materials will keep the rain off better than cotton which has a tendency to retain moisture; however, cotton is lighter weight.
Keep in mind that your shoes and socks should also be waterproof (e.g. leather or rubber boots) and not mesh material. Mesh-type materials will absorb water and retain it against your skin, causing a cold/wet environment even if you stay dry. This can lead to a host of issues including sore feet, blisters, and more serious problems such as trench foot!
3. Be Aware Of The Trail Conditions And Potential Flood
Whether on a higher-traffic trail or on a more remote, low-traffic trail, be aware of the conditions on your hike. These factors include visibility from the rain, footing in muddy areas and stream crossings, and other issues that could arise from Mother Nature’s wrath.
All trails have the potential to flood. This may be more of an issue in some regions than others, but it is something to be aware of on all hiking trips. Watch for washed-out bridges, mudslides, and other obstacles that may not only make it difficult for you but also dangerous if your party falls in. If your party does not feel they can safely cross a wet area, turn around and find an alternate route.
4. Carry the Proper Gear For Your Hike
Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario! Have emergency gear (e.g., extra clothes, food/water/snacks, first aid kit) in the case you get lost or injured.
In addition, be sure to have a flashlight or headlamp available in the event your hike takes longer than expected and it gets dark before your party returns to your vehicle. Getting caught on a trail after dark can be extremely dangerous for a number of reasons!
5. Keep an Eye On Your Hiking Party
Make sure everyone in your party is prepared to hike. Check that your party is dressed properly, knows how long you plan to hike, and has the appropriate emergency equipment packed for their specific needs.
In addition, be sure to pay close attention to those who are slower in your hiking group as they may require more time on the trail than others. If this is the case and it appears they will not be able to keep up with the rest of the group, it may be best to turn around and find an alternate route.
6. Communication Is Key!
Even if your cell phone doesn’t work where you are hiking, all modern-day smartphones come equipped with a “panic” feature that allows you to send a text large enough to be seen from a distance which will alert your contacts of the need for help. This feature, however, does require you to have cell service which could be spotty in some areas!
If your party uses a walkie-talkie during hikes, make sure everyone knows how to use the device and that it is set on an appropriate channel. Unless you and your hiking party have permission from the land manager to hike on a closed trail, stay within earshot of one another.
In addition, be sure that if someone gets injured or lost, they will let the rest of the group know where they are going in order to get help!
7. Check Access Roads And Trail Head Locations
Be sure to make note of the access roads in and out of the area in your hike. If you are traveling in an unfamiliar location, it may be best to check with local authorities for road closures or other problems that could inhibit travel around the area.
Also, know when (and where) each trailhead is located. This is especially helpful if your hike starts at a parking lot and you plan to meet someone near the trailhead when they are done hiking, as it will help them find you quickly!
Hiking in the rain can be a great way to spend a day, but it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that come with wet weather. If your hike is on a rain-soaked trail, you may encounter downed trees and other obstacles which could not only delay your party but also put you in danger!
In this article, we discussed different ways to navigate around these issues including trailhead and trail access, proper gear, trail conditions, hiking party preparation and communication, and checking road closures. As long as you follow these tips when planning a hike during the rainy season you will be on your way to a safe day of adventure!
Have a fun and safe adventure out there!