El Yunque NF
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  • Tips for Responsible Hiking

    Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.


    Plan your route based on your ability, available time and interest.

    Please follow these safety tips to ensure a safe journey: 

    •  Stay on marked trails.
    •  Don’t hike alone. Let the slowest person in your party set the pace. This is especially important when children are a part of your group.
    • Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member and check in with them upon your return.
    • Develop an emergency plan before you start your trip. Make sure everyone knows what to do if they become lost or a medical emergency arises. Give children whistles with the instructions to "stop and blow" if they become lost.
    • Take frequent rests or vary your pace to maintain your energy.
    • Drink plenty of water, even on cool, wet days. Never drink your entire supply between refills.
    • Wear appropriate clothing, including sturdy boots that are broken in and are comfortable.
    • Consider using a hiking pole or walking stick to help maintain your balance in unlevel or hazardous areas.
    • Be aware of your surroundings, and pre-plan your approach before hiking through more hazardous areas. 
    • Wet surfaces can be a hazard and even more so if it's on a slope.


    Consider what you'll do if you start to slide or fall so that you are prepared.

    • If falling, do not try to catch yourself; try to avoid landing on your hands, elbows or knees. Landing on the side of your body is much safer.
    • If the slope is such where you know you are going to slide, lowering your center of gravity, by sitting down and sliding on your feet or bottom, is safer.
    • If sliding while standing up, keep your weight over your feet and bend your knees—do not lean back or forward while sliding.


    If on a day hike, extra weight wears you down and reduces your agility over uneven terrain. Pack as light as possible. Leave the extras behind, but consider bringing these essentials:

    • Map
    • Sunglasses and a hat
    • Sunscreen
    • First aid kit and prescription medication
    • High-energy bars, granola, candy, or fruit

    Source: U. S. Forest Service; National Park Service