5 Tips For Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains By Yourself

The scenic and diverse hiking trails in the Smokies bring in thousands of hikers every year! Whether you’re hiking in a group or individually, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing hike and see some of the most incredible views in the country! If you do decide to hike alone, there are a few safety tips you should keep in mind. Here are 5 tips for hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains by yourself:

1. Pick a Well-Traveled Trail

With over 100 trails to choose from in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are options for every hiker. However, for solo hikers, we recommend attempting trails that are slightly more popular and well-traveled by fellow hikers. Hiking more popular trails reduces the risk of getting lost and ensures you will be able to find help in case of an emergency. We understand the draw of spending time in nature by yourself, but it is also important to keep yourself safe when venturing into the woods alone.

2. Tell Someone Where You’re Going

The Bridge along the Gatlinburg TrailOne of the most important precautions to take when hiking alone is letting a friend or family member know where you are or where you’re going. Make sure they have the name of the trail and an idea of when you should be back. Thanks to GPS tracking, you can also share your location on your phone with someone. As much as the idea of getting off the grid is tempting, we recommend having at least one person know where you are at all times when hiking.

3. Know Your Own Hiking Limitations

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or this is your first trail, everyone has their own limits. It’s important to know what your limitations are when attempting to make a solo hike so you don’t put yourself in danger. Feel free to challenge yourself but don’t attempt a marathon if you’ve only ever run sprints. Getting overly fatigued can prevent you from getting back to your car or cabin in a safe manner. Move slowly, take in your surroundings, and enjoy hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains without fear of over exerting yourself.

4. Do Your Research and Be Prepared

man holding a flashlight in the dark woodsThe woods are an unpredictable place so it’s important to come prepared for anything! Make sure you’ve packed all the essentials on your solo hike. Water, snacks, a first aid kit, even an extra layer of clothes can make or break your solo hike. It is also important to check the weather before venturing out on your hike. Know your environment, temperatures, and rain percentages all before beginning. We recommend hiking on clear days to avoid the hazards that rain may bring.

5. Don’t Wear Headphones

This tip is one that hikers often don’t think of. As much as a good playlist can elevate your hiking experience, it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. In order to avoid being spooked by an animal or fellow hikers, take out the headphones and heighten your senses and awareness of what’s around you. If the weather changes you’ll want to hear the thunder and seek cover before you’re met with an unwelcome storm. Jam out to your favorite music on the way home, just not on the trail.

You’ll love all the trails the Smokies have to offer! If you’re interested in hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, either in groups or individually, check out these hiking trails and plan your trip today!