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Explore Safely: A Hiking Safety Guide for Our Trails
When you adventure in Lake Chatuge, you’ll wander around vast expanses of glittering lake shoreline, climb rising peaks of the North Georgia mountains to discover breathtaking overlooks and hike miles along the historic Appalachian Trail. While you’re exploring in Georgia’s Enchanted Valley and soaking in all of its wonder, you should always make sure to hike smart, be prepared and follow important safety guidelines meant to protect you and your fellow adventurers. We’ve assembled a few to keep in mind, inspired by the National Parks Service.
Photo Credit: @iwally
Plan Your Adventure
Before setting foot on any of our hiking trails, take time to make sure you have a thorough plan in place. This includes:
Selecting Your Trail
Our recent hiking guide details many of the waterfalls, trails and scenic spots you can explore on your Lake Chatuge adventure. Browse through and map out which trail or trails you want to hit so you can appropriately plan your route. Picking your trail also requires knowing your limits. As you decide, keep in mind distances and elevations that you can comfortably travel.
Telling A Friend
Whether hiking alone or with others, always let someone who is not joining you know where you are hiking, when you should be expected to return, and make sure they have a way to contact you and check in. Upon return, make sure to let them know you are back safely from your journey.
Keeping Your Phone Charged and Have Back-Up Communication
One of the most vital safety tips when hiking is making sure you always have a way to communicate with others in the event you get lost, need assistance or someone is injured. Be sure to pack necessary tools so you are not relying on your phone as a flashlight, map or other tool. At certain points in the wilderness, cell service can become spotty, which can also drain your battery. The National Parks Service recommends also having a personal locating device on hand in the event you lose or find it difficult to receive cell service. This will ensure others know how and where to find you if needed.
Preparing for All Weather
Whether hiking in the cold winter months or venturing out in the heat of a Georgia summer, a good hiker is always prepared to weather the rain, snow or sunshine. Be sure to pack appropriate protective gear. If on a trail and weather becomes severe, seek immediate shelter until storms pass.
Photo Credit: @billrubino
Pack The Essentials
Nothing makes a hike more challenging than a poorly packed bag. In an environment where you only have what you bring with you, having the essentials is, well, essential! We’ve put together a handy checklist you can use when you’re preparing for your excursion.
For those camping:
Another crucial safety recommendation is to note how much you are capable of physically carrying in a bag and for how long. Do not overpack your bag at the risk of exhausting yourself and cutting your trip short. Please also remember that everything you pack in with you should leave when you do. Our natural spaces should remain free of litter and leftovers so others can enjoy.
Photo Credit: @cheapthrillswith_us
Now that you’ve planned, packed and prepared, the next step is safely setting out. There are several guidelines you can follow to make sure you are tackling these trails responsibly. Here are a few:
Set the Right Pace
If hiking with more than one person, you should always make sure you are walking and hiking at the speed most comfortable for your slowest adventurer. You do not want to tire out your group early, and the fastest way to do that is by not setting the right pace.
Take Your Time and Take Breaks
There’s no rush to explore our lands quickly. Take the time you need to reach points of higher elevation, watch for slippery spots, traverse around large tree roots or loose rocks and dirt. For those taking longer hikes, or even those exploring shorter trails with little explorers, taking breaks to rest, drink water or have a snack are also crucial to a successful day. Knowing your limits and staying energized and hydrated will yield the best hiking results, guaranteed.
Watch for Wildlife
We share our wilderness with some amazing creatures, and we must respect their space while exploring. For those camping overnight, store food properly. For all adventuring, be mindful of the wildlife that call this area home. Do not attempt to approach them.
Keep Track of Your Time and Distance
While your hike towards a central point might feel like a breeze, remember that whatever distance you have to hike to get there, you have to travel to return. Especially in the shorter days of the winter months, keeping time is also crucial to ensure you are safely out of the wilderness by nightfall.
Photo Credit: @iwally
While not a safety recommendation, one of our favorite tips to ensuring a successful day of exploration is wrapping it up at Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa, a sprawling, beautiful resort that, in addition to being home to its own hiking trail, has delicious dining options that are perfect for celebrating a successful day of adventure. Enjoy a meal with a view at either the main dining room or Brassies Bar and Grill, both of which overlook the resort’s beautiful backyard and golf course. Brasstown also has plenty of feather-soft beds for those looking to make a getaway out of their hiking journeys.
We love having so many wonderful waterfalls, hiking trails and adventures right at our back door. While we want everyone to explore their scenic wonder, remember to do so safely, responsibly and leave no trace behind so others can enjoy for years to come. For more information on our hiking trails available, visit https://www.golakechatuge.com/what-to-do-hiking.php.