Hiking in the Heat

Man hiking on the PATH trail in Henry County in summer.

The year is heating up quickly, and it’s good to remember a few guidelines on hiking in the heat. Humidity and the sun can take you by surprise. Here are a few ways you can be prepared for the heat:


Drink plenty of water before you head outside and bring water with you on the trails in reusable bottles. Places to refill are limited.  Sip at the water along your adventure to avoid getting thirsty and dehydrated.   


Make sure you have a snack for the trail. Energy bars, nuts, pretzels, or trail mix all help you hold onto the hiking in the heatwater you’re drinking and give you energy. 

Start early:

Summer temperatures are typically at their coolest in the early morning.  Plan your long outings then and avoid the hottest and sunniest part of the day in the afternoon.  It’s hard to find shade with the sun overhead. Note: if you’re bringing your dog, make sure it’s early enough that the rock is cool to walk on – the hot rock surface can burn their feet.

Wear appropriate clothing:

Light colors and lightweight do best.  Try to avoid pure cotton as sweat or rain don’t easily dry in this humid climate and can actually leave you feeling chilled or chafe your skin.  Don’t forget a hat to protect your face from the sun and shield your eyes.   

Slow down:

Heat depletes energy.  As temperatures and humidity rise, slow your pace or reduce your mileage. Take frequent breaks and don’t forget to sip on your water.      

Spray down:

Lather on the sunscreen and bug spray! Sunscreen prevents sunburn and makes your outdoor experience a bit easier. Don’t forget about the bugs, especially ticks, which might come along for the ride – protect yourself by adding a layer of bug spray along with your sunscreen.   

Two people enjoy a hike on Panola Mountain (Credit: David Foster).

Bring a buddy:

And finally, always have a trail buddy. If someone doesn’t join you on your trek, make sure that you’ve left word about where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and take note of your surroundings.