State safety officials remind fall hikers to take care in changing conditions

Vermont State Police and Department of Public Safety would like to remind those heading out onto Vermont’s hiking trails this fall of the ever changing conditions a hiker may encounter this time of year.

While trailhead conditions may be warm and mild, higher elevations can present cooler temperatures along with a better view of foliage.

Fall rain at lower elevations can turn into a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the hills, and frosty mornings can mean icy trails at higher elevations. Conditions on the trails above are typically colder and more windy than below, allowing for potential hypothermia in individuals who are unprepared.

Neil Van Dyke, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety reports that there have already been several search and rescue incidents this fall involving hikers who were not properly prepared for the conditions they found at higher elevations.

Hikers should get an early start and allow plenty of time, as the days are getting shorter.  Last weekend two different hiking parties lost their way as darkness came in southern Vermont and required rescue as they had not brought headlamps, and a similar incident occurred in mid-September on Mt. Worcester.

If hiking at higher elevations, it’s important to prepare for potential winterlike conditions. Waterproof boots (not sneakers) with traction devices, extra layers of warm clothes, a headlamp, map and compass may become necessary for a safe and successful hike.

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