Safe Summer Hiking
Summer time presents plenty of time to go for a hike. But, there are also a few dangers. The first and most important thing to have on a hike (besides your map) is enough water. Pack at least 6 ounces of water per person for every mile you plan to hike. Avoid caffeine and drink plenty of water before starting the hike. If you are going on a shorter hike Nalgene makes BPA free bottles that hold 32 ounces. For longer hikes, consider using a CamelBak which can hold up to 3 liters and can be used hands free.
Insects can make a hike miserable. Bug spray is important, especially if you are hiking near wetlands or waterways. There are several DEET-free natural insect repellents on the market. I like Repel’s Lemon and Eucalyptus. When selecting a spray look for sprays that contain essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, bergamot, geranium, or citronella. Wear light colored clothing as well as a light colored hat. Mosquitos are attracted to dark colors.
Sunscreen is very important. You’ll want to use sunscreen liberally every two hours. We follow the recommendation of a shotglass full of sunscreen. Measure this out at home in your hand so you get an idea of how much it is so you can dole out the right amount on the trail. Make sure you use a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen. For areas that the sun is pounding on us, I like to use zinc creams. The varieties on the market now blend in and don’t leave you looking like a ghost. Also, if you aren’t wearing a hat be sure to rub sunscreen on at least the part line of your hair and don’t forget your ears.
Keeping the Kids from Fighting
If you have more than one person wanting to lead, trade off leadership roles at defined points. For example, Tommy gets to lead until we reach the bridge. Then Mary leads until we reach the bench. This helps mitigate battles for leadership supremacy and keeps the kids moving forward at a reasonable pace.
Invoke the rule of no running ahead of the group. This helps keep everyone together and moving at the slowest person’s pace. Hint: This helps keeps little ones happy and parents can easily slow down the pace of the hike.
Different Habitats = Different Critters
Summer time is great for checking out animals and insects but finding them is all about knowing the habitats. Here is an easy guide to what you can expect to see and where to go to see it:
Meadows: Butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds are busy during the summer months dining on the latest flowering plant. The best plants are trumpet creeper, common milkweed, and butterfly weed to see these beautiful creatures. Hike at Adams Lake State Prairie, Chaparral Prairie, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge Chestnut Ridge Trail, and Beavercreek Wildlife Area.
Waterways: Trails that passes near moving water are great for covering the sounds we make while hiking. Try a hike at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, Clifty Falls State Park and Nature Preserve, and Cincinnati Nature Center Rowe Woods.
Woods near a lake: The sounds of water lapping against the shoreline, boaters in the distance, and the wind rustling the leaves all help hide the sounds of your group. Hike Hardy Lake State Recreation Area, Whitewater Memorial State Park, Hueston Woods State Park, Spring Valley Wildlife Area,or Stonelick State Park.
Have a great time on the trails and share your experience with the rest of us. You just might be the one who encourages someone else to get outside and enjoy a hike! Share with your friends via Twitter and Facebook what trails you accomplished. Please tag Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and 6060Cincyhikes in your Facebook posts and use @6060cincyhikes and @cincychildrens for your tweets so we can celebrate your accomplishments too!
Free Downloads of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Cincinnati:
Adams Lake State Park & State Nature Preserve has the xeric prairie and lots of insects like the Allegheny mound ants plus plenty of unique prairie plants.
Shawnee Lookout: Let the sounds of mankind hide your footsteps through the woods. Share an inspring view of the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio rivers
Big Bone Lick State Park: The kids get to see a bison herd and the relics of animals such as giant mammoths, mastodons, and ground sloths.
Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve: Keep the kids close to you on this hilly hike with amazing views. This is a good spot to see songbirds.