Tips for Hikers Returning to Reopened NM Forests
TAOS, N.M. — Hikers are heading back to their favorite trails in New Mexico after rain relieved the extreme fire danger that kept parks, forests and open-space destinations closed for five weeks.
Hiking is a great way to improve your health, but experts say there are some essentials you need to pack along to make the most of it. Cindy Brown is the author of “The Taos Hiking Guide,” and she said the most important thing you need to take is water, followed by food, protection from the sun and a rain jacket. She noted if you're a new hiker, you should start with a basic route.
"So my first advice is always do a flat hike, get acclimated,” Brown said. “We have a lot of beautiful hikes down near the Rio Grande land, and that's a great, great couple of great days of hiking down there, before you go up to the forest."
Water-wise, a half-gallon is typically recommended as a minimum for a day hike. Other hiking essentials Brown recommends include a flashlight, matches, a knife, bandana and a whistle.
Brown said hiking apps on your phone can be useful if you're not familiar with New Mexico's trails, but she also recommended packing the old fashioned navigation tools.
"I suggest that even if you have some kind of GPS function on your phone, that you bring a compass, because sometimes phones don't work, sometimes they run out of batteries,” she said. “So if you're going someplace new, I think a map and a compass is important to have."
New Mexico has many hiking areas that don't require dog owners to keep their pets leashed if they're under voice control, but Brown doesn't recommend it.
"Because the dog, if he chases a bighorn sheep, he could get kicked with a hoof, he could injure the bighorn sheep,” she warned. “So I'm a big fan of dogs on a leash, and really thinking about the kinds of circumstances you're going to encounter."
Hikers should also be aware of fire danger. Northern New Mexico is still categorized as being in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.