Trail Navigation 101

Navigation devices.

You cannot rely solely on cellphones in the outdoors; especially not if you’re lost in the woods. Using apps with GPS navigation is super helpful, but it is important that you always have a backup plan in case your phone dies or breaks at any point in time. Learn how to read a map and use a compass properly before hitting the trail.

Stay on trail.

If you aren’t exactly sure which way the trail leads, figure it out before moving any further. Retrace your steps and remember critical landmarks, signs, or structures that could indicate where you got on the wrong path. Stay on the trail at all times, unless briefly stepping off to go to the bathroom.

Leave your plans.

Always let someone at home know where and when you’re going and what time you plan to return by. This way, someone will be able to tell rescuers where to find you in case you do get lost. An extra safety measure is to leave a note on the dashboard of your vehicle to let others know what trail(s) you plan on taking and what time you started.

What If I Do Get Lost?

Stop. Don’t panic. Stop walking any further and remain where you are. Stay as calm as possible.

Think.Thinking clearly and calmly is crucial when you get lost in the woods. Try your best to observe where you are, point out any notable landmarks and access the situation ahead.

Observe. Look around for any trail signs and blazes, and stay on the trail at all costs. If you are not on the trail, don’t go blindly looking for it.

Plan. If you cannot figure out a solid plan that you’re confident in, it’s better to stay put and reach out for help. Assess the situation at hand, and plan accordingly.

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