As the days heat up, you might be tempted to cool it on your hiking habit. But, actually, you can hike all summer long — the secret lies in the when and where. Here are a few tips to keep you on the trail.
Timing is important. Evening is good. So is early morning: Hit the trail at 7 a.m., be done by 11 and you can get in a decent hike before the temperature gets much above 80.
Distance. One concession you might make is the length of your hikes. If you love a good 10-miler in winter, maybe a 5- to 7-mile hike is more appropriate in hot weather.
Location. Select trails with high canopies: leaf cover can trim about 10 degrees from the heat. Also look for trails with minimal understory to allow better access to whatever breeze may be available.
Location, location. Trails that are wide, preferably double track, provide superior air flow. And on early morning hikes, you’ll be less likely to Swiffer up a raft of spider webs.
Location, location, location. Especially at lower elevations, hike along water. If you start to heat up, shed the hiking shoes and wade in, and splash a little over your head and neck.
Dress appropriately. In summer, cotton can be your friend (for the very reason it is your enemy in winter): Cotton absorbs sweat and keeps it close to your skin; on hot days, this works as a personal air conditioning system
Hydrate! Of course you’re carrying water; make sure your water is cold. If you use a hydration pack, fill the bladder with ice, then water. If you use bottles: the night before, fill them 3/4 full and put them in the freezer, then top off before heading out. If you’re going for 5 miles or more, take an electrolyte drink (or water stir-in) to replenish your body with vital minerals including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Listen to your body. Stop, drop, and rest if you have any of these symptoms: you sweat more than usual, you have muscle pain or spasms, you feel nauseous or dizzy or get a headache, or have any of the heat-released illness symptoms you’ll find listed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link below. Take further action as noted at the CDC site.
Prepare for pests. Things that fly and bite and spread rashes are a few of our least favorite things about summer hiking. But if you plan ahead and prepare, you can make them a little less pesky. See our handy link below.
Back to location. Hike in the mountains! They’re cool in more ways than one. We have several trips planned this summer. Come join us:
Our cool summer hikes
Here’s where we’ll be keeping our cool on the trail this summer:
- Peaks of Otter (basecamp hiking)
- Standing Indian (basecamp hiking)
- Linville Gorge (base camp hiking)
- Linville Gorge (backpacking)
- South Mountains State Park (backpacking)
- Wilson Creek (backpacking)
Don’t let the summer heat sideline you. Follow our advice and keep hiking!
Find a comprehensive rundown of heat-related illness symptoms and how to deal with them on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page, here.
Learn about dealing with summer’s pests, here.