Before You Go

What to Prepare

Exploring our great natural resources with your family can be exhilarating. The key to a great experience is preparation.

Here are few simple steps:

Choose the Right Activity in the Right Location

Planning your outdoor adventure is a great way to involve the whole family. When you make a decision together about where to go and the activities to do, you increase everybody’s interest.

  • Find trails, campsites and activities that are manageable by everyone in your group. Or plan ahead for separate activities. For instance, one adult can hike with those children who can endure longer hikes, while another adult stays with the little ones who may need to nap.
  • Research where you want to go and what you’ll need for the activities you plan. (Will there be a grill for your cook-out or bathroom areas available?).
  • Consider what electronic gadgets should stay at home and which activities will entertain everybody in their absence. Great activities for the family include swimming, coloring, taking pictures, horseback riding, etc.

Packing List

Before you set out for a day in the forest, make sure to check the weather. It is important to layer your clothing accordingly. For example, if you leave early in the morning, chances are it will get hotter as the day progresses. You will need to dress warmly at first and peel off a layer or two in the afternoon. No matter what the weather's like, always wear comfortable, sturdy (and ideally water-resistant) shoes with hiking socks. Don’t buy new shoes right before a hike! Allow some time for break-in. This helps prevent blisters and will make your trip much more enjoyable.

Here are some essentials you and every member of your family or group should have in a backpack:

  • Plenty of water (even for short hikes, you should always be prepared) -- three quarts per day is a good guide, depending on the length of the hike, your fitness level, and the weather
  • Snacks such as fruit or trail mix (and bags to collect the garbage)
  • Travel size first aid kit in case of an emergency
  • Sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen
  • Repellent for bugs or other insects
  • Light-weight rain jacket, especially on days where there is a chance of showers
  • Map of the area you will be traveling and emergency numbers

And don’t forget to bring a camera to photograph and capture your relaxing day in nature!

For longer trips, such as weekend camping trips, refer to http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/safety/safety.shtml#checklist for a more elaborate list of suggested supplies.