Safe hiking tips
Rangers from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources offer these tips for safe hiking:
• Avoid hiking alone.
• Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
• Stay on marked trails. As you hike, pay attention to trail blazes and landmarks. A double blaze indicates a change in trail direction or intersection, so be sure to follow the correct trail.
• Never climb on waterfalls.
• Always carry quality rain gear and turn back in bad weather.
• Dress in layers and avoid cotton.
• All hikers should carry a whistle, which can be heard far away and takes less energy than yelling.
• Carry plenty of drinking water and never assume stream water is safe to drink.
• Don’t count on cell phones to work in the wilderness, but if they do, be able to give details about your location.
• Don’t rely on a GPS to prevent you from getting lost. Batteries can die or the equipment can become damaged or lost.
ATLANTA — Autumn’s arrival means multicolored leaves crunching beneath your hiking boots and gooey s’mores sticking to your chin.
Few things say "fall" as much as a well-deserved getaway, complete with energizing hikes and cozy campfires. To help leaf peepers plan their autumn escapes, Georgia State Parks has launched "Leaf Watch 2009" to track fall color as it moves across the region.
Whether heading to the mountains for hiking and biking or going south for canoeing and camping, "Leaf Watch 2009" offers advice on where to find the best color at Georgia’s state parks. Found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/LeafWatch throughout October and early November, travelers can get updates on fall color, learn safe hiking tips, and make reservations for the many campsites, cottages and lodge rooms offered at Georgia’s state parks.
Typically, Georgia’s mountain parks peak at the end of October; however, color can be seen as early as September and throughout November. Some of the most popular parks for leaf watching include Amicalola Falls, Unicoi, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Moccasin Creek, Tallulah Gorge and Vogel.
Since these parks are often crowded on weekends, visitors may want to check out less known parks, which can be just as vibrant. Providence Canyon State Park, also called Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, has hiking trails along the rim and into the sandy canyon. Hardwoods and tumbling creeks can be found on the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail at F.D. Roosevelt State Park in near Columbus. Smithgall Woods near Helen boasts not only beautiful fall color but also some of the best trout fishing in the state.
Park officials advise visitors to make overnight reservations for campsites, cottages, yurts or hotel-style lodges as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for mountain cottages to be reserved nearly a year in advance, and many campgrounds fill up on pretty weekends. To make a reservation, call 1-800-864-7275 or log onto www.GeorgiaStateParks.org.