With color still on the trees and the temperatures slowly but surely trending toward crisp, clear days, there’s no better time to be hiking in the Smokies. When you come to visit us at Clabough’s Campground and Cabins be sure to take advantage of the many opportunities to hike one of the many trails that stretch throughout the National Park. To have the best experience possible, follow these five tips for enjoying the trails.
- Dress appropriately. At this time of year, you should wear layers. Temperatures in the mountains can be quite cool in the morning and can get even cooler when you’re gaining elevation on a trail. But it’s still warm enough that you’ll want to be able to shed a jacket if you start working up a real sweat. Have someone in your group carry a knapsack to stow the extra layers.
- Treat your feet right. Start by wearing comfortable socks. You don’t necessarily need fancy hiking gear, but nice medium-weight wool socks provide a little cushion, will keep your feet warm, and help to avoid blisters. Appropriate shoes are also a must. Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals with open toes. You can ruin a day’s hike with a stubbed toe pretty easily. Even the relatively easy trails could still trip you up with a few roots and rocks. Again, for a day hike you don’t really need high-end trail gear. Just wear comfortable walking shoes. Since your feet will be bearing the load for the day, make sure that they have it easy.
- Carry water and snacks. It’s most important to stay hydrated. You can get pretty thirsty even on a short hike. By the time you’re feeling thirsty, your body is already a little bit dehydrated. Sip your water frequently and bring more than you think you need. Leave extra back at your car to have when you have finished your hike. For a snack, nothing beats the tried-and-true trail mix. It’s easy to transport and offers compact energy with its nuts and dried fruit. Just be sure to pack your trash out.
- Bring a basic first-aid kit. You don’t need to be able to set a broken bone, but you should be able to address small cuts and scrapes. Bring a few antiseptic wipes and some bandages. Some bug bite relief is also welcome if your bug spray doesn’t work. The biggest concern for most day-hikers is blisters. A tender spot on the heel can make the rest of the hike a little miserable. A moleskin can help prevent blisters; you can usually find it near the bandages or the foot remedies.
- Be in the moment. If you’ve prepared well, following the previous tips, you’re more than ready to fully immerse yourself in the experience of the hike. Be aware of what’s there. Don’t just hike to get to the destination; the whole trail will be full of things to see if you will take the time to look. Sure, you’ll want to capture the moments with your camera or your phone. Sure, you’ll want to share those captured moments with your friends and followers on social media, but don’t lose the moments by staying behind a screen.
If you follow all of these tips, your day of hiking in the Smokies will be one that you won’t forget. You’ll have such a great time, you won’t be able to wait to lace up the shoes again soon. Rest up at Clabough’s, then get back on the trail.