Hike in groups
Due to the risks involved, solo hiking can be dangerous in general, but more so when the sun is down. When hiking at night, bring a hiking buddy long. It will decrease the likelihood of getting lost. If something were to go wrong and you are unable to walk out on your own feet, having someone else there will be essential for your well being.
Carry a headlamp
Picking a durable headlamp is important when planning a night hike. Always carry a reliable headlamp on any given hike, especially at night. Put new batteries in before heading out on the trail. Be sure to pack a spare set of them too, just in case they’re needed.
It is important that you remain fully aware of your surroundings when hiking in the dark. You must be extra cautious of any downed tree limbs, uneven roots, or jagged rocks along the trail. This, too, might come along with having to move a bit slower than you normally would on a normal day hike. Slow down and be mindful of your surroundings. If you encounter any wildlife, be wary and show respect.
It’s smart to avoid hiking a trail that you are unfamiliar with when hiking at night. It isn’t the best idea to be wandering around foreign terrain without the luxury of daylight. Things can take a turn for the worst, very quickly. Being unfamiliar with your surroundings will only add to the situation. Save the new trails for a day hike.
Dress in layers
Layers will be your very best friend when hiking after dark. Dress in all the layers. Bring extra clothing in case yours get wet or sweaty and you need to change out of them. It is also very important to remember that the temperature will typically drop a significant amount after the sun goes down.
Stay on trail
Stay on the designated trail for two reasons: to protect the natural environment and to protect yourself. Staying on the trail when night hiking (and also when day hiking) can prevent you from ending up in a dangerous situation by losing the trail completely and becoming lost.
Be mindful and admire and always keep a respectful distance from any wildlife you may encounter on the trail both during the night and day time. Don’t actively disrupt their livelihood and be hyperaware of your surroundings, as wildlife can be more active at night.
Check the weather
Remember that weather in the valley is vastly different than weather up in higher elevation areas. Clouds or fog could move in, decreasing your light, as well as the temperatures. If the weather is calling for a high cloud cover, rain, snow, or any turbulent weather that may impact your vision.