Learn and Explore
With over 500 miles of trails in Shenandoah National Park, chances are high that you'll be lacing up your hiking boots at some point on your next trip here. As with any outdoor activity, there are a few things to know that will help keep you, your loved ones, and the wildlife that you may encounter safe.
1. Get a Map & Know Trail Markers
Be sure that you know your hiking route before you get out on the trail, and bring a trail map of the area where you'll be hiking. A compass and a GPS unit can also help to keep you on track.
Shenandoah's trails are well-marked, but it's important to know what to look for. Trail markers are cement posts found at trailheads and trail intersections. The metal bands on them will show you what trail you are on, what other trails converge at that intersection, and the mileages to other points of interest. You will also see trail blazes painted on trees and rocks along the trail. The color of the paint indicates the type of trail that you are on:
Blue - hiking trail
2. Bring Plenty of Water
3. Don't Skip the Snacks
Plan on bringing one snack per person, per hour. Salty snacks can help you to replace lost electrolytes.
Cell service is unreliable in Shenandoah, so be sure to let a friend or family member know where you plan to hike and when to expect your return.
5. Pack a First Aid Kit
Slips, trips and falls can happen at any time, but having a basic first aid kit can help. Observing the following guidelines can minimize the likelihood that you'll need to use it:
6. Check the Weather
Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions. Remember, temperatures on the mountain can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than in the valley.
7. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Wear proper, sturdy footwear when hiking on any unpaved trail. Layer your clothing and bring a rain jacket so that you're ready for any weather.
8. Carry a Flashlight
Even if you plan on finishing your hike before dark, having a flashlight with fresh batteries is a good idea. Cell phones don't make reliable flashlights.
9. Don't Forget a Whistle
A whistle is a great way to alert someone to your location, if necessary. Check to see if your hiking backpack as one built into the chest strap!
10. Plan for Emergencies
Play the "What If?" game, and know what to do if an emergency arises.
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Last updated: January 5, 2021