Strap on your hiking boots and get ready to be one with the wilderness - fall is the perfect time to hit the trails and soak up the crisp fall air, check out the changing leaves, and do a little bird watching. There's no reason you can't enjoy the fall foliage and commune with nature. Just make sure to have a few essentials on hand before hitting the trails.
1. Map and Compass - Hiking the road less traveled holds a certain appeal … until you can't find your way back home. Instead of a trail of breadcrumbs, opt for a safer (and saner) approach - make sure to have a map and compass with you at all times. The wonders of nature are easier to spot when you know where you are and what direction you're headed.
2. Water - Whether you're planning on a rigorous hike through the mountains or a causal day hike near your home, it's important to stay hydrated. It's also a good idea to have a way to purify your water. That way if your supply runs out, you'll have a way to live off the land.
3. Food/Snacks - You're sure to work up an appetite hiking, so it's important to pack smart. You're looking for healthy, nutrient-rich snacks, not a five-course meal. Pack snacks that require no prep and are guaranteed to give you plenty of energy like nuts, dried fruit, trail mix, and granola.
4. First Aid Kit - Something as small as an irritating blister can turn your autumn hike from an outdoor adventure to a struggle. Make sure to pack a fully stocked first aid kit so you'll be equipped to deal with everything from minor irritations to major emergencies.
5. Flashlight - You should plan to hike during daylight hours when it's safer and you can actually see your surroundings, but just in case things run late, keep a flashlight in your backpack. And make sure to pack extra batteries just in case. A flashlight with no firepower it won't do you much good.
6. Binoculars - A good pair of lightweight, powerful bird watching binoculars are invaluable in the field. Even if you're not into avian viewing, they'll help you focus on trees, animals, colors, and the trail ahead. The best hiking binoculars are equipped with neck straps to keep them always at-the-ready.
Once you have all your essential supplies packed, start mapping your hike! As a safety precaution, always make sure to let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back before setting off on any type of hike. Even with all the necessary precautions and supplies, it's better to be safe than sorry.