Summer has arrived, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reopened, and the days are gorgeous. The perfect recipe for a hike, right?

We agree! Before you head into the mountains for a hike, though, take a few minutes to ensure you’re doing so safely. Our team at AFC Urgent Care Sevierville has a few tips for hiking safety.

What Can I Do Before I Hike to Stay Safe?

Hiking safety begins before you ever even lace up your shoes! There are a number of important steps you should take before heading out on a hike.

First, make sure you consider whether the hike you’re thinking about is appropriate for your skill level, fitness and individual needs. The GSMNP website offers helpful information about the difficulty of each hike, along with its length and other factors.

Other Steps to Take Pre-Hike

  • Choose your shoes carefully, looking for comfort and safety.
  • Pack a first-aid kit in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you take along water and food.
  • Share your hiking plans with someone who isn’t joining you, including your estimated completion time.
  • Carefully check the weather and choose a day/time that’s clear of inclement weather.

What Can I Do to Stay Safe While Hiking?

Taking proper precautions is an important step before you hike, but you also want to be careful while you hike. Many of the injuries occur on hikes could be prevented.

The most important step you can take is to stay aware as you hike. Often, people are distracted by things along the hike and lose sight of where they’re walking, leading to injury and potentially even risking their lives. So, pay attention as you walk and focus on your steps and any hazards around you.

Other Ways to Stay Hiking Safe

  • Set your pace by the slowest hiker.
  • Take breaks often to pace yourself on long hikes.
  • Drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.
  • Stay away from slippery surfaces.
  • Watch out for wildlife.
  • Follow all posted directions.

In need of medical care for an injury or illness? Schedule an in-person or AFC TeleCare appointment with AFC Urgent Care Sevierville for a diagnosis and treatment plan.