Don’t be fooled by the latest round of unpredictable Michigan weather. Springtime and warmer temperatures really are here! And because of the pandemic, more of us are headed outside than ever before. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or hitting the trails for the first time, it’s important to take the proper safety precautions—both to keep yourself safe, and to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on emergency services.
Being prepared in advance can keep you safe in the field. Know where you’re going: bring a map, or use your phone to download one. We recommend AllTrails, a free app that gives you access to a treasure trove of trail maps—including four of Legacy’s preserves. Make sure your cell phone is charged, and share your plans with family or friends, including the time that you expect to be home. Keep a six-foot radius between you and other people at all times, including not petting other family’s dogs. Hike during daylight hours; if you think there’s a chance you could be out past sunset, bring a flashlight, or be familiar with your phone’s flashlight app. Bring plenty of water– more than you think you’ll need!
In addition, having the right gear can not only keep you safe, but can make your hike more enjoyable. A sun hat, sunscreen, and lightweight cotton clothing can keep you cool and sunburn-free. Close-toed shoes, tucking your pants into your socks, and spraying your clothes lightly with insect repellent will keep ticks and biting insects off of you. Wearing light-colored clothing will help you spot ticks more quickly—but be sure to check yourself for ticks thoroughly after your hike!
And after your hike is over, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. One thing most often overlooked is to wash your clothes when you get home, especially if you think you’ve walked through poison ivy. All parts of the poison ivy plant contain the irritating oil, which quickly transfers to anything it touches. Remember, this includes your shoe or boot laces! Wash your hands after taking off boots and before you touch anything (especially your face). For most individuals, washing diligently with soap and warm water within eight hours of exposure will prevent or significantly lessen a reaction. If you know you’re really sensitive, invest in a dedicated oil removal product like Tecnu, which is widely available. Poison ivy can be scary, but don’t let it keep you off the trail.
We hope these warm-weather hiking tips help you feel safe and confident when exploring nature in the months ahead!
Not sure what a tick or poison ivy looks like? Here are some great resources: