Night hiking

With the heat of summer bearing down, it’s time to think about one of my favorite times to hike.  At night!  A night hike is a totally different experience than during the day and a familiar trail can be totally transformed just by venturing out after sunset.

One of my all-time favorite places to hike is the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Strong City, KS.  The miles of trails that traverse the rolling hills of pristine tallgrass prairie are open 24-hours a day which makes it the perfect spot for hiking after dark.  While star-gazing is a sublime past-time during night-hiking, the blanket of darkness also heightens the other senses.  Listen for the sounds of the cicadas during the summer and the calls of the barred owl along riparian woodlands.  Take a blanket and hike to a hilltop to watch the stars go by.

Lower Fox Creek School

Lower Fox Creek School
Photo by Andy Nelson

When hiking at night, a few tips will help you to have a pleasant and safe experience.

1. Night hiking probably isn’t the best time to start exploring unfamiliar territory.  Stick to well established trails that you have hiked during the day.

2. Even if the moon is full, a flashlight with extra batteries is essential gear to help with route-finding.  A red filter on your light will help preserve your night-vision.

3. Always hike in a group when venturing out at night.  The foremost reason being that there’s always more fun to be had with several people joining the adventure but it’s also good to have a companion nearby should any mishaps occur.

So if you don’t want to awake at a dreadful hour to beat the summer heat, just wait until the shadows grow long, gather your closest friends, and hit the trails.

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