With the air cleared of smoke and the return of the rain, autumn has finally arrived in Washington! The state’s most beautiful season of the year is upon us and as the landscape starts to shift from green to gold, orange and red, it’s time to hit the trails for the most breathtaking views! There is no better way to see autumn arrive than from the mountain tops, just make sure you have everything you need to make the journey.
Here are some of the best fall hiking essentials for Washington!
The best way to prepare for any hike, but especially as the weather gets colder and wetter, is by starting from the ground up with your feet! In order to keep your feet warm and protected from blisters, hiking-specific socks provide better insulation and cushion compared to standard cotton socks. As trails become wet and possibly slippery, it is time to store away open-toed and trail running footwear and opt for hiking boots/shoes.
As any Washingtonian knows, the weather can change on a dime and the last thing you want when you’re in the middle of your hike is to be caught in a situation where you are not prepared for any change in weather (especially with elevation). The key to hiking attire? Layers! The first layer should be a base layer, and for the fall and winter months, this means some form of thermal wear. Next, a warm insulating layer is best, whether that is a wool sweater or a fleece jacket, as long as it can keep you warm. Finally, and in our state this is a must, a water-proof layer. This could be a rain and wind jacket as well as even waterproof hiking pants. Hats and gloves are also a must with keeping warm and dry on the trails!
Depending on what kind of day out you have planned, whether it’s up a mountain trail or a less intense walk along a river trail, it’s best to always be prepared. If you are planning a less strenuous hike in larger state parks, bring a bag that is comfortable to wear all day, has room for your layered clothing as you need it, and has space for water bottles and some snacks. If you are planning a more intense hike out on further trails, day packs may be the better option. On these longer hikes, items like enough hydration and nutrition, navigation tools, first aid kit, fire starter, sun protection, and illumination tools are all essentials.
Safety first! The best thing you can do to make your hike more enjoyable is come prepared! Taking time to look up the trail map, the weather forecast, and any potential risks (usually due to weather) is always important. It is also a good idea to let someone know where you will be going and when you plan on being back, especially in case you do not get cellphone reception on a trail. Just as we want to care for ourselves, we also need to be mindful of the nature we plan on enjoying by following any trail rules and doing all we can to leave no trace behind.
Make a Memory
Finally, one of the best things you can bring on a hike, especially this time of year, is a camera or binoculars to really be able to enjoy and even capture some of the changing scenery along the way!