You might have been thinking about heading out on a hiking trip at the Appalachian Trail, but is this safe? There are many different safety concerns when it comes to this hiking trail, so you will need to be vigilant and do your research before you head out.
One of the biggest dangers that occur when hiking in such an area is a lack of knowledge, which is why it is so important to know what the dangers are that you might encounter, and how to stay safe as best you can.
In this article, we are going to tell you about all the possible dangers of hiking the Appalachian Trail, and how you can stay safe throughout your trip. Some of the things that we are going to mention may even surprise you, so prepare yourself.
Are There Grizzly Bears on the Appalachian Trail?
There are no grizzly bears on the Appalachian Trail, and black bears are the only type of bear that can be found in the east. Black bears are much smaller and less aggressive than grizzly bears, but they are still a cause for concern.
Black bears have limited eyesight but a keen sense of smell and hearing, and even though it is rare to be attacked by a black bear, it is still possible.
Something to be aware of is that black bears know when you are carrying food, and this could draw them to you. This is why you should keep your food high off the ground where the bears can’t get to it.
There are designated bear barriers where you can hang your food at a safe height. This will stop bears from coming into your space, and it will also keep your food safe from wildlife.
If you do see a bear, do not approach it. Though, you should make sure that you keep an eye on its behavior. If the bear starts to watch you or changes its path, these can both be signals that you are too close to it.
You should turn back slowly and increase the distance between you and the bear. Keep watching them to make sure, but they should do the same.
If the bear is still on your trail, then you should try to change direction. Hopefully, the bear will get bored and wander off in another direction. Do not run away from the bear, as this could agitate its behavior.
Can You Camp Anywhere Along the Appalachian Trail?
You cannot camp anywhere that you want to along the Appalachian Trail, but there are designated camping sites that you can choose from. There are also around 260 shelters available to stay in across the trail. The majority of shelters will only be available on a first-come first-served basis, which is something to keep in mind.
The designated campsites across the Appalachian Trail are typically in flat areas where you can pitch your own tent or portable shelter.
There is also the option for dispersed camping, which is when campers have the freedom to choose the location of their campsite. This isn’t allowed in every part of the trail, but some areas will offer this feature.
There are some people that prefer the solitude and other advantages of dispersed camping, but you will need to check which areas allow you to do so. This is prohibited in many areas, so you should always check to find out what the rules and regulations are.
Can You Carry a Gun While Hiking the Appalachian Trail?
It is technically legal to carry a gun with you through national parks as long as you have the correct permits to do so. However, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy does discourage carrying firearms on the trail, which is something that you should bear in mind.
As well as this, you would also need to make sure that you have the correct permits for all of the states and have a concealed carry permit.
Has Anyone Died on the Appalachian Trail?
Unfortunately, there is an average of 2 to 3 deaths a year on the Appalachian Trail, and there have been lots of deaths here. Shockingly since 1974, there have been 11 murders on the Appalachian Trail, and the most recent of these was in 2011.
This murder occurred when a hiker from Indiana that was called Scott Lilly was killed in an apparent homicide from death by asphyxia by suffocation. Unfortunately, this murder still hasn’t been solved.
More recently, Jason Parish, aged 36 died when a tree felled by strong winds fell on top of him near the Ed Garvery Shelter near the southern end of the Maryland Trail. A companion has stated that the tree was dead and marked with a pink ribbon, which meant that it would be cut down.
Interestingly, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy does not keep a comprehensive record of death or injuries that have occurred on the trail. This is due to the fact that it passes through so many local, state, and federal jurisdictions, making it more difficult to keep track.
However, it has been reported that some of the most common deaths that occur are related to weather conditions, like lightning, and hypothermia.
How to Stay Safe on the Appalachian Trail?
You should never hike alone on the Appalachian Trail, as it is much safer to travel through when in a group. It is also a good idea to make someone aware of your plans that is not coming on the trip.
You should also be wary of strangers and don’t tell them your plans, even if they seem friendly. Be friendly, but be cautious. Be prepared for any emergency situation and carry trails maps to guide you if you get lost.
Most importantly, always be alert and pay attention to details of your surroundings, wildlife, and any people that you come across. Look out for anything that sends a red flag, and above all, always trust your instinct.