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Hiking Do's and Don'ts

Living in beautiful Orange County, California has many perks. From the mountains to the sea, you can find a variety of different habitats and this means wonderful, diverse hiking trails. Trails like Black Star Canyon, which is located near Silverado Canyon, or Morro Canyon in Crystal Cove State Park are popular destinations for the hiking community. Living in sunny Southern California, residents and visitors alike get to enjoy the wonderful weather that this region has to offer, which makes hiking a year-round activity. Of course, with hiking beautiful trails, one must prepare. Here we will discuss how to do just that: from prepping to being environmentally conscious during a hike.

A hiking trail in Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, California. Photo by Michaela Coats.

1. DO NOT: hike alone!

This is especially true for remote locations where dangerous wildlife is known to inhabit. However, a lot of individuals enjoy hiking alone because it’s peaceful. If going solo is your “jam”, let someone know of your plan. That can include sharing your location with a friend or letting a trustworthy person know where you plan on hiking and the estimated time it should take you to hike that specific trail.

2. DO: become familiar with the trails you plan to visit!

Research the location ahead of time, including how long the trail is and the difficulty of the trail. Personally, I like the application All Trails downloaded on my smartphone. It is quite helpful for searching trails either near you or a trail that you might be interested in trying out. This app lets the hikers leave reviews and tips on what to do and not to do whilst hiking specific trails.

3. DO: properly prepare for any hike!

Preparing for a hike includes, but not limited to, wearing proper clothing and making sure you wear comfortable hiking shoes. Also, since doing research before heading out to a hike, it would be great to check the weather beforehand. Whilst hiking larger mountains one must take into consideration that the degree might drop up to ten degrees when going up in altitude. In Orange County, however, it is more important to make sure it will not get too hot as to avoid dehydration or other heat-related illnesses. Therefore, depending on the weather condition it’s recommended to wear layered clothing and bring an abundance of water.

4. DO NOT: leave a trace!

Hiking trails are often-time preserved land that should be respected, therefore, when you plan on trying out a new hiking trail or even going to your regular hiking trail it’s important to leave no trace. This means, one should not litter or remove objects that belong to the environment (this includes rocks, plants, animals or any other cool objects that belong to the trail). Taking your hike to the next level by being environmentally conscious is an added bonus. Personally, when I go hiking, I like picking up trash on my way through the trail. Additionally, one should not go off trail while on a hike. Wilderness parks are often sensitive landscapes where restoration work is a common occurrence. Staying on trail will help protect the local environment and yourself.

5. DO: be cautious of your surroundings!

You never know if local creatures are roaming around your area. If you choose to listen to music while hiking, be sure it is at an appropriate volume so you can still hear around you. Personally, I’ve encountered multiple coyotes and I’ve humanely scared them off by making loud noises and making myself appear as large as possible. However, the techniques that you use will depend on the wild animals that you encounter.

The mountain lion that attacked the 3-year old child in a tree with the father's backpack on January 20th, 2020. Photo sourced from NBC Los Angeles

For example, in the beginning of 2020, a 3-year-old child was attacked by a mountain lion in Whiting Ranch Park in Lake Forest. The lion grabbed the child from the neck and dragged the child. Luckily, the father knew what to do and threw a backpack at the mountain lion in which the lion released the child and picked up the backpack and climbed a tree (pictured). However, it’s also important to note that children should never be left to lead the hike since they are easily target by wild animals. In the case of an encounter with a dangerous animal such as a mountain lion, never turn your back to it, slowly start to walk away from it, and pick up items that you can throw at it such as palm sized rocks to scare it off.

6. DO: enjoy the wonderful hikes that Southern California has to offer!

However, don’t forget to properly prep and take precaution when going for a hike. Also, remember that we only have one earth therefore let’s try our best to be environmentally conscious and take care of mother nature. Let’s lead by example and be sustainably conscious in our daily lives.

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