Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on November 8, 2022
We've devoted the past two blog posts to talking about how to stay safe when you're hiking the trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (or anywhere else, for that matter). So at this point, you probably assume you know everything there is to know about trail safety, right? Wrong, granola breath! This week, we're going to wrap up this series with just a few more items to keep in mind before you take on that next trek in the national park or the hiking destination of your choice. We're offering a collection of general tips and reminders to keep in mind when you're actually on your hike, courtesy of Smoky Mountain Ziplines. (At our Gatlinburg zip line attraction, we understand how important safety can be when enjoying the great outdoors in the mountains.)
• On the day of your hike, if it's not too far out of your way, consider stopping off at Sugarlands Visitor Center (or Oconaluftee Visitor Center if you're hiking on the North Carolina side of the national park) and asking a ranger about the current conditions in the park, be they related to weather or road closures. Even if the weather is cooperative, it's possible that the route you had planned to travel to get to your trailhead is closed for maintenance or because of natural forces that have somehow hindered travel.
• Let the slowest hiker set the pace. This makes sense when you think about it. If you put the fastest people in the front, they're going to just leave the others behind. And eventually, the faster people will have to stop anyway to let the slower ones catch up. It's important that your group stay together on the hike, even if it's just two people. Staying together reduces the chances of someone getting lost, and it helps to have everyone on hand if one hiker is injured.
• Track your time and distance. You'll want to set out earlier enough so that you have time to get to your destination and back to your starting point before it gets dark. Most trail resources include mileages and estimates of how long it should take to complete each hike. If the terrain is hilly, take into consideration the fact that it will take approximately twice as long to complete an uphill stretch of trail as it will to walk down it. Note what time you start your hike, and track your travel time. If you've used up half of your allotted daylight and you haven't gotten to your destination yet, you may need to consider turning around or else risk getting stranded in the park after dark.
• Yield to uphill hikers. This is basic trail courtesy, but it's also a safety issue. If you're headed down a mountain and see a group headed up, step just off the trail and allow them to pass.
• Take frequent breaks. Even if you're in good shape and have brought plenty of hydration and nutrition, plan to take a short breather at regular intervals so you don't tire yourself out before you complete your journey. And speaking of food and water, be sure you take appropriate amounts of both to stave off dehydration and to keep your energy levels sufficiently high to complete your hike.
• Watch your step. Unless you're a trail runner or racer, you'll want to take your time and keep an eye on your footing on the trail. There are usually lots of roots and rocks - aka opportunities to trip or stumble. This is especially true in areas where the rocks are slippery or the trail passes near a cliff.