With the Angeles National Forest in Sierra Madre's back yard, miles of hiking trails with sweeping vistas are a quick trek away.
But just because day-hike trails may be nearby, forest officials urge folks to do some research on the terrain and elevation, as authorities have rescued several people this summer due to injuries and other mishaps. Twice this summer, people have died in Eaton Canyon.
"The motto is to know before you go, and really, we can't stress that enough,'' John D. Wagner, assistant public affairs officer for the Angeles National Forest told Patch on Wednesday.
Here is the list of top tips from foresty officials to stay safe on the trails:
- 1. Know the topography. Even if it's a spur-of-the-moment hike, take the time to research the trail: elevation, terrain, difficulty. While the forest service website lists all the trails and provides maps, a local hikes website offers elevation gained and provides recent reviews for hundreds of nearby trails.
- 2. Know your physical capabilities and limitations. Once you research that your desired route is 14 miles round trip, and you're going to gain 2,600 feet, consider whether you're in that good of shape. Stick with flatter trails and work your way up, literally. (This also goes for dogs, whose paws can't always plod as far as you can.)
- 3. Water: Pack a minimum of two liters per person per day.
- 4. Food: Nutrition bars, beef jerkey and nuts are good for re-energizing weary hikers.
- 5. Two are better than one. Don't go it alone: When it comes to hiking, it's always a good idea to pair up in case of injury.
- 6. Snakes: Let them pass. Snakes love those sun-soaked trails. If you see one, don't provoke it, just let it slither on by.
- 7. Know where the closest ranger station is to your chosen trial. Cell phones often lose signals in the canyons, and if there's an emergency, you need to know which way to head.
- 8. Pack a First-Aid kit. Sounds obvious, but even if it's only a three-mile trail, better to have it and not need it. In addition to bandages, items should include a snake-bite kit, sunscreen, pocket knife, waterproof matches, a map and compass.
- 9. Let someone know where you're going and what time you plan to return.