Stay safe when you hike the trails

A safe hiking experience involves planning where you'll go and for how long. Trail maps for Oak Mountain State Park are available at the front gate, back gate and park office and campground. (Contributed)

A safe hiking experience involves planning where you’ll go and for how long. Trail maps for Oak Mountain State Park are available at the front gate, back gate and park office and campground. (Contributed)

By EMILY D. COOK / GUEST COLUMNIST

We, at Oak Mountain, want you to enjoy yourself while you are using the park and since we have more than 20 miles of hiking trails, we also want you to be safe. Here are some tips on safe hiking.

The first step for a safe hiking experience is planning where you are going to go and how long you are going to be gone.

You can grab a trail map for our park from the Front Gate, Back Gate, Park Office or Campground. These are beneficial in hiking on our trails.

Secondly, tell someone your plan, so they can check on you if you don’t return when you said you were.

Third, check the weather and dress appropriately.

Fourth, enjoy the trails.

Some items that you might want to bring with you to enjoy the trails are plenty of water (for both you and your pet, if you bring one).

The trails do not have access to drinking water. Our streams are rain-fed so water can be limited.

You may also want to throw in some snacks, bug spray and sunscreen, some bandages, a clean pair of socks, a mirror and a whistle. A hat is always a good idea as well to keep the sun off of your face and bugs out of your hair.

Some things that you might need to be on the lookout for while on our trails include poison ivy, ticks, snakes, bees and other insects, and rocks and roots.

Most of the time, you will never know that there are snakes anywhere around you, but if you do come across one, back away slowly and go around them at a safe distance.

Ticks are probably the worst thing to encounter on our trails.

They are hard to detect and they can find any opening in your clothes to access your skin. To reduce the chance of ticks, spray bug spray around any space in your clothes (i.e. waistband, pants legs, arm holes, etc.).

Rocks and roots are a common hazard due to the daily wear and tear of the trails.

Happy safe hiking!