Tips to Avoid Getting Lost Hiking – 13 Things You Should Know

We spend most of our time working, taking care of our families among other important things. It is equally important to spend your free time well and break the monotony of everyday hustles. Sometimes you just need to forget about your busy week ahead, unpaid bills or when the house rent is due and burry your head somewhere. Hence the tips to avoid getting lost hiking.

Running away from civilization is a great way that can help you to unwind. Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities that you can engage in. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy interacting with nature and seeing the wildlife, trees and beautiful surroundings.

With all these benefits, hiking has its risks too. One of the biggest hiking risks is getting lost.  Of course, nobody plans to get lost on a hiking adventure. Unluckily, accidents take place and if you are not well informed, you can experience a frustrating time out there.

I have gathered 13 tips that will help you enjoy your hiking without getting lost. Make sure you check these important tips before you head outdoors.

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1. Research the New Place Before You Go

If you are visiting a new place, it is crucial to do more research before you leave. Proper planning will help you find out more information about the place and what you are likely to expect. Doing your research well helps you understand the climb, terrain difficult, whether the trail is marked and much more.

You will also know if there are any confusing diversion, what to carry and who to contact in case you need help. If you cannot find all this information, then it is great to go with a person who is familiar with the place.

2. Know Your Surrounding

Hiking should be fun. However, most people end up getting lost as a result of having too much fun. You should familiarize yourself with the surrounding so that you can know what to do when you get lost. What is unique about the place? Are there huge rocks, trees or split roads?

If you come across a split road, know the direction you choose to take. Observe the major landmarks in the area as they will help you find your way back home.

3. Prepare and Plan Ahead

If you don't plan your trip, then you plan to fail. It is important if you have prior information about the risks and dangers of every hike. Plan your trip accordingly and find more information about the weather reports, elevation gain, type of terrain and much more.

The most important thing when you get lost is having a rough idea of where you are will help you find your way back home safely.

4. Inform At Least 2 People Where You Are Going

Never leave for a hiking trip without informing at least 2 people where you are going and when you plan to come back. What is something bad happens to you and nobody knows your whereabouts? How will people find or rescue you?

Before you leave, you must tell a minimum of 2 people where you are going. Why is this important?  Not only does it increase your chances of surviving but also gives the rescue and search team a rough idea of where to start looking for you.

5. Portable GPS or GPS Watch

Most hikers will ask, why do I need to carry a portable GPS yet I can rely on my phone's GPS? Well, you cannot entirely depend on your phone's GPS. The battery might die and maybe you did not carry an extra battery or power bank. If you find yourself off the trail and do not know where to go, a portable GPS will help you know where you are and track your way back.

Most modern GPS devices track all sorts of information especially your location and where you came from. As compared to cell phones, these devices are way more reliable. Alongside your GPS, you can also carry your GPS hiking watch if you have one.

In as much as a GPS watch is not a full-size device like a GPS, it will let you know where you are and where you should go. GPS watches also provide you with more information about:

  • Weather
  • Elevation
  • Heart rate

6. Map and Compass

This is another one of the tips to avoid getting lost hiking. Relying on modern technology like using your GPS device and cell phone is important. However, these devices can run out of batteries and leave you stranded. You should be well prepared such that you can still find your way back even if the devices run out of power.

By this I mean, having a map and compass. These two tools should be your companion for any outdoor adventure. You will also have some peace of mind since you are sure you can still find your way back without any problems.

7. Sign the Trail Registry

This is a book that has weathered pages that you will find in most advanced trails that you need to sign in before you start your hike. The trail registry further requires you to write down more information about where you are doing, the number of people you are with, your start date and the date you expect to be back.

I know most of you might find filling all these information a waste of your time but it will really be helpful when you get lost. Just sign the book no matter how silly it might look to you. 

8. Always Stay On the Main Trail

Many hikers get lost when hiking because they leave the main trail. Yes, I know you would like to adventure and this might force you to leave the main trail. Sometimes, you might even find it necessary to take a shortcut. Some people are curious and they might think to try a different route is great.

In as much as you would love to explore, leaving the main trail increases your chances of losing your way. Be careful so that you can avoid finding yourself in a place where you cannot find your way back.

9. Keep Trail Markers

If you find that you are not confident about the route, simply leave trail marks. They will eventually help you trace your way back. Trail marks can be twigs, branches or whatever you choose to use as a trail marker.

When you are well prepared, you reduce the chances of getting lost. This will help you enjoy your hiking trip without worrying about anything.

10. Carry the 10 Essentials

When you are packing for any outdoor adventure, it is important to pack the 10 essentials. This is a checklist that was put together by mountaineers back in 1974 but the list has been updated ever since.

The list has everything that you need ranging from food to navigation so you should never leave it behind. You are also free to modify the list to suit your particular adventure. The main objective of this list is to prepare you for weather changes, minor injuries or any unexpected delay.

11. Check the Weather

It is important to check the weather when you are hiking. Are there any signs of fog, thunder or clouds? For instance, if you are hiking and it gets foggy, you will lose your way very fast. I have been there and I know how frustrating the whole experience can be.

My friends and I got lost when hiking on the trails of Mt. Kenya. We hadn't paid much attention to the weather and so we got lost in the fog. This was indeed a scary encounter and I always advise my fellow hikers and campers to check the weather so that you can know what is happening and take the right measures.

12. Keep an Eye on Landmarks, Sun and the Trail

Don't just walk blindly without checking the trails or landmarks. Always check how you go there, the turns you took and whether you are heading west or east. If you are hiking as a group, you should know that most of the people are not keen so you need to keep watch.

13. Stop If You Find You Are Off the Trail

In case you lose your trail and have no idea of getting back home, just stop. Don't panic or try to find familiar territories because you can end up making things worse. Stopping will help you calm down when you are lost. In fact, stop is an acronym for:

  • Stay- Remain out and wait for help.
  • Think- Be calm and look at your compass and map.
  • Observe- Have a look at the surrounding to find out familiar landmarks.
  • Plan- Come up with a solution and stick to it.

Final Words

Hiking is an enjoyable activity and accidents happen too. What matters is how you handle the situation in case of accidents and emergencies. Getting lost when hiking is one of the most unfortunate incidents you can experience. Once you know how you can prevent yourself from getting lost, you will enjoy your trip and create memories.

If you get lost, the most important thing that you should do is to stay calm. Do not panic. You should then take the right measures relevant to our above tips to avoid getting lost hiking. Always keep the above tips in mind and you can always find your way back home.

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