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Hiking Safety

Hiking barefoot can be done safely. It is not much different from hiking in shoes.

Some simple safety rules:

  • Look where you are stepping. This doesn't mean you need to always look straight down, but scan the trail in front of you for hazards.

  • Do not land hard on your heels. Step straight down when necessary. Try to keep your weight on the balls of your feet.

  • Tree roots and large rocks are usually the greatest hazards. Do not shuffle your feet or drag them. Do not kick leaves, they may be concealing hazards.

  • Stay on clear trails when possible.

  • Keep your tetanus immunization current.

  • Always carry plenty of water.

Unfortunately, the world is not a completely safe place. Hiking always involves at least some risk. Please be aware that the precautions listed below are meant to inform rather than alarm you. Simply being aware of these hazards and keeping an eye out for them will most likely be enough to keep you safe.

Caution:

  • Dangerous cliffs! There are hazardous cliffs along some trails we hike. Use care along cliff edges. Keep young children close to you. Never hike after dark.

  • Flash flood areas! Pay attention to weather forecasts before entering gorges. Do not hike in gorges before, during, or after heavy rain storms in the area. Be ready to move quickly to high ground if it begins to rain.

  • Public hunting areas! Some of the areas we hike are in or near State Wildlife (public hunting) Areas. Hiking in those areas is not safe during deer gun season. Check with the Ohio Division of Wildlife for locations and season schedules.

  • Venomous snakes! Sighting a venomous snake while on the trail is unlikely, but always watch your step in snake territory. There are three species of venomous snakes native to Ohio, all members of the pit viper family. The most common are copperheads, found within about 50 miles of the Ohio River. Massasauga rattlesnakes are found in eastern Ohio. Timber rattlesnakes are found in southern Ohio. The timber rattlesnake is on the Ohio list of endangered species. In the unlikely event that you see a timber rattlesnake, report it to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

 

Have questions? Write the Ohio Barefoot Hikers.

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