Wardens are reminding hikers of simple tips to staying safe in the Maine woods.

With temperatures warming, and snow and ice melting away, Mainers are excited to hit the trails again. Spring conditions in Maine can present unique challenges to hikers. Back in 2020 when COVID concerns sent many more people out into the woods, some hikers were very unprepared for the trail conditions, weather, or lacked proper survival equipment. The result was a busy spring for Wardens and search and rescue teams around the state.

The Maine Warden Service responded to a higher than normal number of searches in April and May, which accounted for nearly 20% of all hiking rescues in 2020. In a recent press release, wardens compiled a list of things to remember when beginning your hiking season.

Spring Hiking Reminders from the Maine Warden Service:

  • Tell someone who is not hiking with you where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Know that conditions will vary significantly across the state, and at different elevations.
  • Research your destination before you go. Hiking during muddy conditions can have lasting negative impacts on trails. Always respect closed trail signs.
  • Roads may be impassable. Many roads to hiking areas are dirt that can become extremely muddy in the spring.
  • Respect private landowners. Be a good land user.
  • Dress for the weather and in layers.
  • Be prepared for no cell phone service.
  • Pack essential items. Always pack water, high-protein snacks, and a fire starter. Learn more in the You Alone in the Maine Woods booklet.
  • Always leave the land as you found it, if not better. If you see trash that someone else left, pick it up.
  • Always stay on the trail.
  • Plan your day. Know how long the hike may take, and plan accordingly.
  • Be prepared for no restrooms.
  • Have a plan B. If the trailhead is full, head to your next option.

Wardens remind hikers, "94% of Maine's forest land is privately owned and more than half of that land area is open to the public. This access is an incredible gift, and in order to preserve it, we all need to do our part."

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