Hiking at night let’s you see, well, almost see, everything in a whole new way. The sights are different, the sounds are different, nocturnal wildlife are going about their business, it’s a whole ‘nother world at night! A night hike is something I believe most hikers should do at least once in their lifetime.
Why Hike at Night?
Hiking at night is most likely a tad bit out of you comfort zone. That means it’s a great opportunity to break out of your box a little and see things in a whole new way. Aside from breaking out of your comfort zone, hiking at night has even more benefits.
Multitasking: Outdoor Style. You can combine hiking and stargazing if you choose a clear night for your night hike
Quieter Trails. They’ll definitely be less crowded at night. This gives you a chance to hear the sounds of nature surrounding you.
Cooler Temperatures. Hiking at night provides relief from the heat of day. This can be especially nice in the summer months.
See “rare” wildlife. Day hiking gives you the chance to see many animals, but hiking at night provides the opportunity to see the wildlife many don’t get the chance to see on the trails. Owls, raccoons, badgers, and bats swooping about the starry sky are just a few of the night loving animals you may get to see.
What to Pack for Night Hiking
When the sun goes down, so does the temperature. Bring an extra jacket in case you get cold. Pro Tip- Keep it at the top of your pack so you can reach it quickly and easily as the temps drop lower.
Water and Snacks
Following the 10 Essentials guidelines, bring enough for your hike and some extra.
An Extra Light Source
One of the worst things that can happen on a night hike is you lose your light. Whether it malfunctions, breaks, or gets lost somehow, you’ll be glad you have a backup.
They’re just one of those things you’ll be glad you have if you ever need them!
Dangers of Night Hiking
It’s easier to get lost in the dark. This is why it’s important to pick a trail you already know. No matter how well you know it, you should still always carry a map and compass with you.
This is the number one killer of backcountry enthusiasts. Just use common sense and be careful. Try to avoid scrambling if possible, and watch ledges and slopes.
Rivers and Streams
Crossing water in the darkness is recommended for those experienced with water crossings. If you’ve never attempted to cross water before, please don’t attempt it for the first time at night. Not only is it dark, but a slip could leave you quickly disoriented and make it harder to get yourself out of the water.
Not only scavengers come out at night, some hunters do to. Keep your eyes peeled for these stealthy animals, big and small, to avoid an unwanted interaction.
Tips for Hiking at Night
Choose a Trail You Know
An unknown trail may present obstacles that are hard to see or navigate in the darkness. Choosing a trail you already know well reduces the chance of getting lost and possibly the risk of injury as well.
Don’t Go Solo Your First Time
As tempting as it may be to try to enjoy the nighttime solitude alone, sharing your first few night hikes with a hiking buddy may help you enjoy it more. It’s also a good idea for safety reasons.
Time Your Hike for a View of the Sunset
What better way to start your night hike? Plan your hike so you get to a location in time to watch it going down. Kind of like hiking in reverse since many time there day hikes to end with the same views.
Hike on a Full or Nearly Full Moon
The helping hand of the moon lends a little extra light for your viewing pleasure.
It can be hard enough to find something that got buried in your pack when it’s light outside, imagine doing it in the darkness.
Don’t Try Out New Gear
A night hike is not the best place to test out the gear you just bought. Low visibility combined with hiking out with defective trekking poles or a headlamp that fizzled out is not going to be a good time.
Go Slower and Observe
Reducing your speed means you’ll be able to look before you step, reducing your chances of injury. In addition to that, some wildlife is more active at night and you need to be extra aware of your surroundings. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to slow down and see the trail you chose in a whole new way?
Have you ever hiked at night? Did you love it or hate it?