When I go day hiking in New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, I usually start preparing a few days in advance by watching the weather forecast and documenting my trip plan. It’s a good habit to get into if you hike on mountains or more remote trails. I make a point to leave a copy with my wife, who knows to call the State Police if we’re overdue.
Here are the things I research and document in my trip plans:
- Weather forecast and weather front trends
- Read recent trip reports
- Routes and major landmarks
- Elevation gain
- Special gear needs
- Water crossings and water level
- Water sources
- Look up book time in local guidebooks
- Sunset time
- Turnaround time
- Bail out options
- Parking spot
- Group review before hike. This is very important.
- Leave trip plan with a reliable person who will call the State Police is we’re overdue.
This kind of preparation is particularly important when you are hiking above treeline or during the winter, which can be very dangerous in New England if conditions degrade. If the weather turns suddenly or someone in your party needs to bail, it’s best to have an escape route pre-planned so everyone knows what to do and you don’t waste any time getting down or out to safety.
How does my trip planning method compare with yours?