Before any adventure, you must prepare. Depending on your chosen adventure you will need different equipment. The information below applies to a general hike in the forest away from your car or other shelter. For more specific details on various recreation options, see the Have Fun section.
Learn more about the importance of nature play here.
Never been on a hike? Go guided. Many parks have free guided hikes.
Plan Your Adventure:
Check the weather before you go. Don’t go hiking if severe thunderstorms or tornadoes are in the forecast.
Dress for the weather, in layers. Pants are best, but if you wear shorts, wear long socks. Weather can change so carry a jacket. For more information on how to dress for success in the out-of-doors, see the Be Safe section.
Sturdy shoes are important. Flip-flops are for the poolside, sturdy shoes or boots are best for the forest. Twisted ankles and blisters make up a large proportion of injuries when hiking and can make it difficult to hike out. According to park managers at Ricketts Glen State Park, flip-flops were responsible for many of the carry-out injuries on the park's popular Falls Trail.
Leave your itinerary behind. List your route and expected time to return. If you are late, people can use your itinerary to find you.
How many people are in your party:
Expected return time:
Emergency contact who is not on the trip:
Plan your route. Many state parks and forests have their maps online. Planning your trip can help prevent you from becoming lost and ensure a grand adventure.
If you have questions, stop at the park office and talk to the helpful people there. They can provide recommendations and tips to ease your planning efforts.
Carry equipment in a small bag, backpack:
What the parents should carry:
- first aid kit - a blister can make a nice hike into a painful trek.
- bug repellent - waving your arms like an orchestra conductor makes for a long hike.
- compass and know how to use it - gps units are great, but may not work in remote locations. We recommend that you stay on the trails, but should you get lost, a compass may help you find your way to safety.
- map of the area – a map will help you know where you are and where you are going.
- water - do not drink from lakes or streams unless you treat or boil the water first.
- snacks - just being outdoors uses up lots of energy so bring high energy snacks.
- more snacks - kids need to refuel more than adults so bring lots of snacks when hiking with little ones.
- sun block - sun burn can sneak up on you, even on a cloudy day. Better sunblocked than sun sore.
- medicine – bring along any required medications, like an EpiPen or diabetic serum.
- fire making tools - in a real survival situation, fire can help keep you warm and alert rescuers to your position.
What the kids should carry:
- whistle - to make noise, voices tire quickly but using a whistle is easy and loud.
- poncho - can keep you warm and dry which is very important.
- snacks - got to keep your energy up while you’re adventuring.
- water - don’t drink from lakes or streams.
- flag – have something bright with you to help rescuers find you if you get lost.
- optional - Kids love to carry and use a camera, and love carrying the map.