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Safety on the Appalachian Trail


Safety on the Appalachian Trail

Fall is here and the temperatures are dropping. As you pull out your fall and winter hiking gear, remember that hunting season is also upon us. Hunting is allowed near the Trail along portions of the 2,000-plus miles and 14 states the Trail traverses. Hunting season laws and schedules vary between states. The ATC suggests that visitors to the Appalachian Trail follow these safety recommendations during hunting season:

Know Before You GoLearn the regulations and hunting seasons for the areas where you will be hiking before you go.

Use Extra Caution at Dawn and DuskHunting activity may increase at dawn and dusk, when animals are feeding and visibility is poor. Wear reflective vests or use a headlamp or flashlight for extra visibility.

Avoid Hunter InterferenceHikers should be aware that interference or harassment of hunters in the lawful pursuit of game is a violation of law in all 14 A.T. states. Including interference or tampering with dogs used in the pursuit of game where allowed by law.

Be HeardMake sure you are heard before you are seen by whistling, singing, or talking while you hike.

Use Extra Caution Near Roads and in ValleysBe especially cautious within 1/2 mile of road crossings (both approaching and leaving) and in valley areas.

Choose Trail Locations Restricted to Hunting During Firearm SeasonDuring firearm months, you may want to hike in one of the five national parks crossed by the A.T. that do not allow hunting.

Wear Blaze OrangeWear a fluorescent or "blaze" orange hat and vest (and pack cover if backpacking), or hooded outerwear when hiking in fall, winter or spring.

For more details on safety recommendations during hunting season visit:  appalachiantrail.org/hunting

Essential Safety Gear For Any Season

  Official Appalachian Trail Maps

Know Before You Go

The official A.T. maps list the agencies that own and regulate the land for each section of the Trail. Contact these agencies before you go to learn the regulations and hunting seasons for the areas where you will be hiking.

Emergency Assistance

In an emergency, assistance may be delayed if you cannot describe your location in detail. A map will help you describe surrounding landmarks to rescuers or law enforcement (who are often unfamiliar with the A.T.), show access points and routes, and provide you with the names of the nearest town and the county in which you are located.

Wear Blaze Orange

During hunting season, wear a fluorescent or "blaze" orange hat and vest (and pack cover if backpacking), or hooded outerwear when hiking in fall, winter or spring. Blaze orange will help distinguish you from wild game. If you hike with a dog, it should also wear blaze orange visible from all sides.

Safety Tips

The blaze orange,  A.T. safety hankie is covered with all sorts of safety tips that directly relate to hiking on the Appalachian Trail: avoiding hypothermia, identifying ticks and poisonous plants, basic navigation and other common hazards.

A.T. Safety Hankie
A.T. First Aid Kit

Trail Injuries

Hikers should be prepared to handle minor injuries when hiking in remote areas. The first aid kit is considered by the ATC, and many others, one of the essential items to pack, whether for a long distance hike, or a day hike. With 57 pieces in a durable rip-stop bag, and at just 3.7oz, the Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit is perfect for camping, backpacking, or hiking and is well-stocked enough to treat one person on a three day hike.

For other gear suggestions visit:  appalachiantrail.org

Call for Help

whistle is another pack staple for all hikers. It can be used to alert others if you are injured or lost and can help to frighten bears during close encounters. Three blasts is the international signal for help. 

A.T. Whistle
  A.T. Insect Shield

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Insects are not only annoying, but they can also carry and spread diseases. Ticks, which carry Lyme disease and other serious illnesses, are a risk on any hike. The black-legged or deer tick carries Lyme disease. The highest concentration of reported cases of Lyme disease along the A.T. spans from Virginia to Massachusetts, especially at elevations less than 2,000 feet. Other tick species may be encountered at lower elevations in other Trail states. Although Lyme disease is the most common, there are six tick-borne illnesses present on the A.T. Combinations of diseases are common from a single tick bite. 

One of the most effective ways to avoid ticks, is clothing and fabrics treated with permethrin. Insect Shield treats the ATC blanket and Buff with permethrin that provides an invisible, odorless repellent that lasts through 70 washes to ward off ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and more.

For more information on ticks and Lyme disease visit:  appalachiantrail.org

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