Plan your trip and get prepared.

Why? So that you and your hiking partners can stay safe and avoid crowds.

Plan before you leave home.

  • Determine how far you want to hike and how much elevation you want to climb.
  • Check ReadySetGorge.com/land-status to determine what trails are open and what hazards exist. Always have two backup destinations in mind in case your top choice is too crowded or the parking area is full. 
  • Parking at most trailheads is limited. Always have two backup destinations in mind in case your top choice is too crowded or the parking area is full. 
  • During hot, dry months (July-Aug-Sept), avoid active wildfires by checking nifc.gov/nwcc before you leave.
  • While COVID-19 poses a risk to you and others:
    • Recreate as close to home as possible. Give communities time to recover before you travel outside your community or start taking overnight trips.
    • Do not use outdoor recreation sites if you are sick, especially with any COVID-19 symptoms: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. 

When planning to hike with dogs:

  • Check to see if the trail or area is open to dogs.
  • Avoid steep terrain, which can be dangerous for dogs.

Prepare for your trip.

  • Print or download a map of where you plan to go, as cell service may be unreliable.
  • Pack essentials to survive an unexpected night outdoors (find the list at ReadySetGorge.com).
  • Grab cash to pay recreation fees.
  • Plan to arrive early (before 10 a.m.) to avoid crowds.
  • Check the latest road and weather conditions before heading out.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
  • While COVID-19 poses a risk to you and others:
    • When traveling in cars and boats, travel with members of your own household only.
    • Avoid gathering in groups greater than 10 or lingering in parking areas longer than needed.
    • Be self-sufficient with all your supplies in case the communities you are visiting have shortages of supplies.
    • Be prepared for many facilities such as bathrooms, playgrounds and picnic shelters to be closed.
    • State health authorities recommend bringing soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper, as well as a mask or facial covering to shield your noses/mouth.
    • If you are headed out on trails, bring outdoor essentials such as food, water bottles, illumination, a map, compass, sturdy shoes, and warm clothing layers to minimize the need for a rescue, as this can burden first responders and increase the chance of exposure to the virus for yourself and others.

If bringing your dog:

  • Pack a leash and poop bags.

Be courteous and be careful.

  • Park your car in designated, official parking spots only and don’t block parking spots. Always have two backup destinations in mind in case your top choice is too crowded or the parking area is full. 
  • Pay attention to possible hazards overhead and underfoot. Steep slopes, loose rocks, and burned or dead trees could fall. Eroded trail treads could collapse or slide.
  • Know your limits. Stop or turn around when you need to, even if that means you didn’t meet your goal. There’s always the next time!
  • While COVID-19 poses a risk to you and others:
    • Follow CDC and local health guidelines, such as maintaining social distancing on the trail by staying 6 feet away from other hikers.
    • When on narrow trails, step aside to allow other hikers to pass.
    • Always respect any closures that remain in place.

If hiking with your dog:

  • Follow leash laws.
  • Pack out your dog’s poop. 

Once you return:

  • Let your emergency contact know you made it back safely.