Mar 01 2018

Hit the Trail

We’ve all been there: Stuck in the February rut waiting for Daylight Saving Time and warmer weather. But we’ve made it to March, and now is the time to make your springtime outdoor bucket list! One of the many outdoor assets we have in Arkansas are the maintained outdoor parks and trails. Whether it’s the paved, gentle River Trail in Little Rock or the more rugged Sylamore Creek Trail near Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas is teaming with opportunities for outdoor activity and exercise.

Hiking, trail running, fishing, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, mountain biking - you name it – are all favorite outdoor spring activities. However, with these activities comes a fair share of opportunity for injury due to lack of preparedness. Below are 5 general guidelines to maximize outdoor enjoyment while maintaining safety and decreasing potential for injury.

  1. Plan your trip.
The most obvious benefit to planning is that it helps us avoid logistical errors. It’s never fun to plan to visit two parks in one day, only to arrive and find one park closed due to maintenance. Some planning questions to answer include:

How long will the activities I’ve planned take?

What is the weather forecast for the day, and what clothing will I need?

Are the places I want to visit open and what are their hours?

Will I need to bring my own food and water?

What equipment will I need for the activities I’ve planned?

  1. Bring a friend; Tell a friend.
Enjoying the outdoors with friends and family is a great way to build relationships and learn teamwork. In case of emergency, having a second person around to work through the situation is always a good thing. If you do head outside by yourself, be sure to tell a couple of trusted friends of your travel plans and what time you expect to return.

  1. Gear up.
While this could arguably be a sub-point of planning your trip, purchasing the proper gear and actually bringing it on our trip is vital for safety and injury prevention. Proper clothing and footwear can be the difference between a successful, enjoyable day and being miserable due to a sprained ankle, blisters, etc. Commonly overlooked but essential gear includes: sunscreen, first aid kit, flashlights, sunglasses, insect repellants, and a paper map (cell phone service is a plus but not a guarantee).

  1. Fuel up.
The more active we are, the greater our hydration and food needs. Hydration before, during, and after outdoor activities is essential to maintain performance and avoid heat-related illnesses. Likewise, our food is the fuel that our bodies need to be active. A good rule of thumb is to bring more food with you than you think you’ll need. Relying solely on foods that aren’t refrigerated can be handy, but it can make eating healthfully a challenge. Focus on eating foods with a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. If you bring refrigerated foods, be sure that they remain in a concealed container at 40*F or below to minimize bacteria growth.

  1. Expect the unexpected.
While enjoying ourselves outdoors, we must expect the unexpected. Planning outdoor excursions can initially be intimating, but the more often we head outside, the more skilled we become with planning. Springtime weather in Arkansas is one of the more unpredictable factors of trip planning, and it is essential to be alert to potential hazardous conditions. Above all, taking precautions to ensure fun, safety, and injury prevention in the great outdoors is worth our time and efforts. Happy exploring from the TRS Wellness team!

Below is a (certainly not comprehensive) list of trails in central to north-central Arkansas for your convenience. If you’d like more information on opportunities for outdoor adventure in Arkansas, head over to the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism webpage to order a free kit.

Arkansas River Trail (Little Rock) 
North Sylamore Creek Trail (Allison)
Petit Jean Cedar Falls Trail (Morrilton) 
Sugar Loaf Mountain Trail (Heber Springs) 
Pinnacle Mountain State Park - multiple trails (Little Rock) 
Woolly Hollow State Park - multiple trails (Greenbrier)
Cadron Settlement Park hiking trail (Conway)
Jasmin Sumrall

Wellness Coach