5 Hiking Tips For Women Who Choose To Hike Alone

I’ve been hiking solo for years, but I have to admit, I’m scared every time I set foot on the trail.

What am I most afraid of?

Number one is animals like a bear or stepping on a rattlesnake.

My next biggest fear is getting lost which has happened to me a few times and that doomed feeling of “will I get out of here alive” does not make for a fun hike.

My third fear is being injured. Nothing will ruin your hike faster then getting hurt.

And the least thing I’m afraid of is people I encounter in the wild. I’m actually more afraid of walking in downtown Wilmington than I am in the wild.

But despite my fears, they don’t keep me from hiking alone because I LOVE HIKING! If I stay home because of my fears I’d never get out and would miss out on all the awesome places I’ve recently discovered.

Getting out into the woods for a hike is my relaxant so it’s important for me and my well being.

I know not all women like to hike alone because of safety concerns, it’s what prompted me to write this post hoping to get you to get out there despite your fears.

5 Tips For Hiking Solo as a Women

 

1. Tell someone exactly where you’re going.

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of experienced hikers getting lost or injured while hiking alone but if you haven’t read the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralsted or watch the movie. One simple mistake like this could cost you your arm or worse yet your life. No excuses, tell someone where you’re going!

Here’s my story…

I once went hiking alone in PA. I had an old guide book so I didn’t know that the trail I was hiking on got re-located. I was wildly lose and didn’t get out of the woods until dark.

My husband was working at the time and he knew in the area I was hiking but had no idea exactly where or the trail I was hiking on. I also was out of state about 80 miles away.

He kept calling and calling and by 10 pm he started to get worried because I told him I would be home by 6 pm.

He was minutes away from calling the state police but he wouldn’t have been able to give them much information since he didn’t know exactly where I was.

I did made it home just after 10 pm.

That’s the short version of that hike from hell but the point is to tell someone exactly where you’re going and to do plan ahead to ensure the trail you hiking still exists, don’t do what I did, STUPID ME!

Here’s an awesome gadget I have my eye on that will help you plan your route online, ahead of time, including waypoints, and share it with family and friends so they can follow along, watch your progress and know exactly where you are.

Delorme InReach Explorer Two Way Satellite Communicator with Built in Navigation

 

2. Take you cell phone with you.

Even if you don’t have cell service you can still use your cell phone as a GPS tracker by downloading apps that will track your every move but be sure to turn this on before you leave so if works if you should need it. Let’s hope you don’t ever need this but always good to be prepared.

You can also download maps to your cell phone before you leave home and use them on the trail without having wifi or cell service. Gaia GPS app from Apple app store. This is what I use and it’s now available for Android phones at Google Play store.

And of course use your cell phone for taking photos but try not to post on Social Media until you get back. This is how someone you may not want to find you can easily find you by your real time posting of your location.

Although if you’re out of cell service range you won’t be able to do this anyways so enjoy the moment, and use this time to re charge your mind, body and spirit by breathing in the natural world all around you.

3. Carry Pepper spray or Bear spray.

Not only can these sprays be used on animals you can also use them on people if you are being attacked. Buy the one that comes with the hip holster for easy reach, don’t every pack this away in your day pack especially if you’re hiking in bear country.

Tip- I also carry a whistle with me in bear country but my new Osprey pack has a built in whistle on the chest strap. How cool is that! A whistle can also be used to find you if you’re lost.

4. Bring along extra clothing.

This is something I do faithfully. I always carry a rain jacket for short day hikes but for longer hikes I pack extra socks and a sweater just in case I have to stay put or bad weather hits. Check out my day hiking checklist here for everything else I carry in my day pack.

5. Use trekking poles.

I use trekking poles for balance when walking over big boulders and stream crossings but if you don’t want to use them you should carry them anyways because they could be used as crutches if you injury your foot or as a weapon should you be attacked by animal or human.

This happened in West Virginia, a bad storm rolled in up in the Dolly Sods area and a tree fell on our neighbors tent breaking his leg. His buddies cast his leg with a foam sleeping pad and he hiked out using trekking poles. It was 5 miles out but he made it.

You can also use it to ensure no rattlesnakes are ahead. We did this in PA when hiking the Old Loggers Path. We saw a few rattlesnakes so we were a little skittish to walk where the grass was high.

We used our poles to clear the path ahead of us. Happy to say on that trip I didn’t step on any rattlesnakes but I almost did once on the AT. I’ll tell that story another time.

Yeah, hiking alone as a woman is scary.

But don’t let fear take over because you’ll never do it. You’ll miss out on some of your best adventures and you’ll kick yourself later for not doing it.

As a Home Healthcare Nurse I hear this all the time from my patients who say “Do it now because you may get that cancer diagnosis tomorrow and that’ll keep you at home regretting that you didn’t do it when you had the chance”. It’s one of the reason why I get out and hike whenever I can.

I love being alone in the woods, listening to the sounds of nature, going at my own pace, stopping for as long as I want, taking pictures or enjoying a long relaxing lunch, just siting in the sun.

Some women cringe at the thought of hiking alone and I get that, it is a personal choice. Hiking alone as a woman is not for every women so do what’s comfortable for you.

Should you carry a gun?

I recently asked a few outdoor women bloggers in a private Facebook group why they carry a gun, is it for their protection against people or animals?

I posed this question to this group because I don’t carry a gun but I know many women do so it was interesting to hear their answers.

Majority said they carry a gun for both reasons, to protect against humans and animals but a few said mostly to protect from humans, as they put it “there are a lot of creeps out there and now a days you just never know”.

I don’t know how to use a gun so that’s my main reason for not carrying one and I never felt the need to but it is true, you never know who you might encounter. I think you odds are slim that you’ll be attacked.

I think you’re more likely to be accidentally shot by a hunter (that’s why you wear orange during hunting season) or in your own home by a family member. Just my opinion and I have no problem with those who want to carry a gun.

My advice

Use common sense, know where you’re going, tell someone, plan and be prepared. If you get to a trail head and something doesn’t feel right then go with your gut instinct. I’ve done this a few times and it’s disappointing but better to safe. I always listen to my gut feeling, do you?

One last thing before I wrap this up, I didn’t mention food only because I find it obvious but just in case you didn’t, YES! bring snacks even on short hikes because you never know if you’ll get lost or have to stay put for awhile due to weather.

So now I’ll turn it over to you, what are your thoughts of carrying a gun into the wild and do you have any other tips for women hiking solo?

Let me know by leaving a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂 and be sure to share with your friends.

Thank you so much for reading!

Tina
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Comments
  1. Marsha

    I’ve hiked and backpacked alone for many years. I’m experienced in the outdoors. I carry bear mace, a knife, emergency supplies and give a detailed itinerary to friends or family. The worst that ever happened was falling and breaking my arm, but I got out OK. There is beauty in hiking alone, and it fits well with my love for photography. I tend to choose more traveled wilderness areas when I hike alone. After breaking my arm, I got a Spot Satellite Messenger to call for help if something bad happens. It bounces emergency calls off satellites. I usually hike with the New Mexico Mountain Club, however.

    • Tina

      Hi Marsha,
      Nice to hear other women hike alone and I’m surprised I haven’t broken anything yet, that’s why I go everywhere with my hiking poles 🙂 I’ll have to check out the Spot Satellite Messenger, I’ve heard other people talking about it, definitely would be a life saver in the backcountry. Thanks for sharing!
      Tina

  2. Erin

    Loved this article. I live in Florida and hike here but really long to get out in the mountains. Being a new hiker I’m not comfortable going alone yet and don’t have friends that are hiking enthusiasts. I’ve been searching for guides or groups that go on easy/moderate level hikes in the East Coast area. If anyone has any ideas, I’d be super appreciative. Thank you for inspiring article.

    • Tina

      Hi Erin, Glad you liked the article. Have you tried meet up groups? Here’s the link http://heetup.com put in your state and search for hiking, you should be able to find other hikers that do easy to moderate hiking in your area. This is a great place to start. Happy Hiking!

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