Safety Tips for Night Hiking in San Diego

Have you ever wanted to experience your favorite San Diego hike out under the twinkling stars?

Night hiking can be a great way to connect with nature, make an old trail feel new and escape the daytime crowds and heat. Here is what you need to know to have a safe, pleasant hike after the sun sets!

1. Stick to a trail you know

Even familiar trails can look surprisingly different in the dark. A night hike is not the right time to try out a new, unfamiliar hiking trail. Stick to a trail that you feel comfortable on and isn’t too treacherous. Need suggestions? Check out these great San Diego trails for night hiking!

2. Go with others

For obvious safety reasons, it’s not a good idea to venture out on a night hike all by yourself. Always go with a partner, but a group of three or more is ideal. And be sure to tell someone at home where you’re headed.

3. Wear a headlamp

A lightweight headlamp is an essential part of night hiking. It provides ample light and also leaves your hands free if you need to steady yourself. Choose a headlamp with a red light setting if possible, as your eyes are less sensitive to it, meaning your night vision will be less affected by it.

4. Bring extra lights

Don’t rely on your headlamp as your only source of light, however. Always bring other lights like a heavy-duty flashlight and reliable lighter, such as butane, in case you’d need to light a campfire.

5. Give your eyes time to adjust

To truly enjoy the beauty of the nocturnal landscape, try to start off your hike without your headlamp or flashlights on. Note that it may take your eyes a half-hour or more to fully adjust to the darkness before you get started, so factor this into your hike.

6. Check the lunar cycle

Scheduling your night hike during a full moon is not only beautiful, but also helpful – especially if it’s your first time hiking in the dark. You’ll be able to see much more without the aid of artificial light.

7. Pack your hiking essentials, plus more

Even during summer in San Diego, extra layers are almost always necessary after dark, as temperatures drop. In addition to all your regular hiking essentials, bring warm top and bottom layers. Be sure to also pack extra batteries for all the lights you bring.

8. Prepare for increased wildlife activity

Be on the lookout for active nighttime critters that may cross your path. Don’t wander off the marked trails, and be respectful of wildlife territory. Know that predators like mountain lions and coyotes are also nocturnal, but they’re more afraid of us than the other way around. Make noise as you hike to keep them away.

9. Take your time and go slow

You might move fast through parts of your hike during the day. However, your vision clarity and depth perception are much different in the dark, even if it’s familiar terrain. Go slowly, and prepare for double the time your hike usually takes. This also gives you time to observe the gorgeous sights around you!

Looking for more awesome outdoor tips here in San Diego? Check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ great advice for active lifestyles all year long.

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