The weather is finally cooling down and the trails are calling your name. You lace up your hiking boots, fill up your water bottle, and grab a snack for the trail. But wait! Before you head out, make sure you have everything you need for a safe and fun hike by following this checklist.

Check Conditions With The Ranger Station

No one wants to be surprised by a washed-out bridge or a closed trail. A quick call to the ranger station will let you know about any construction or maintenance going on along your planned route as well as special regulations, like leash laws, that may be in place.

Are Permits Required

Some wilderness areas require permits for day hikes or overnight camping stays. Oftentimes these permits can be obtained online ahead of time.

Do You Need To Pay For Parking

Many federal and state parks now require visitors to purchase a parking pass. These passes are typically valid for one year from the date of purchase. Some parks also have self-pay stations where cash or card is accepted.

Check The Weather Conditions

Rain, snow, high winds, and extreme temperatures can all turn a pleasant hike into a hazardous one. Check the forecast before you go so you can be prepared with the appropriate gear and clothing.

Check Your Electronics

If you are planning on using your phone as a GPS device or camera, make sure it is fully charged before you leave, or bring extra batteries along. The same goes for any other electronic devices you may be bringing.

Study The Map

A physical map of the area is always good to have on hand but if you don’t want to carry one with you, take pictures of the relevant pages from a guidebook instead. That way if you get turned around, you can reference them to help get back on track.

Download GPS Phone App

There are several different GPS apps available as well as handheld devices specifically designed for hikers and runners. Find one that works well for you and download the maps for offline use before heading out as cell service can be spotty in remote areas.

Download Driving Directions

Even if you think you know the area well, it is always good to have written directions with you in case you get lost or something comes up that prevents you from completing your planned route..

Post Your Itinerary

Once you have all of your gear together and are ready to head out, leave an itinerary with someone at home detailing where you are going and when they can expect to hear from you again. For an extra safety measure, leave a copy of your itinerary under your car seat. That way if something happens and searchers are looking for your vehicle, they will know where to start looking.

Sum It Up

By following this simple checklist, hikers can ensure that they have everything they need for a safe and enjoyable trip into nature. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!