When it comes to hiking and other outdoor adventures I always like to hike in the morning.

Here in the Rockies getting an early start means reducing the risk of being chased off of a mountain by afternoon lightning.

It also means that I can get my kids down for their afternoon nap.

But about once a month we like to have some fun and go hiking (or cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing) in the evening instead of the morning.

Usually, our evening hike coincides with a full moon. It’s just fun hiking in the moonlight, right?

If you’re a daytime hiker it’s time to shake things up a bit.

Here are a few tips on how you can get on the trails and enjoy a magical night hike.

Find the perfect location.

You’ll want to be as far away from any natural lights as you can.

Choose a hike through a prairie, open space or above timberline so you won’t have anything blocking your view of the night sky.

But, since you’ll be hiking at night stick to a trail that you know.

Hiking at night does add a certain element of risk, especially on unfamiliar terrain.

Wear your jammies.

If you’re bringing along children start out before the sun sets to make unloading kids and assembling gear at the trailhead a little bit easier.

When we go on night hikes I dress my kids in their pajamas with a shell layer on top depending on the weather since I know they’ll fall asleep in the car on the drive home.

Turn a night hike into a camping trip.

Might as well set up the tent too and turn it into an adventure.

If camping isn’t your thing rent a yurt.

Yurts are awesome for offering night-sky viewing opportunities and you’ll probably get to sleep on a bed or a cot so it’s a total win.

Start your hike from a picnic or camping area and or bring along a picnic dinner.

Or fire up the stove and heat up a chili or stew.

Or build a small fire in an established fire-pit and enjoy a cookout under the moon.

Invite a few friends and have some fun.

You can hike and then eat, or eat and then hike or just eat and watch the sky.

Let there be light.

Bring headlamps for emergency purposes or to assemble gear at the trailhead but turn them off when you’re hiking to preserve your night vision.

You’ll want to enjoy the full experience of the moonlit trails without any unnatural light getting in the way.

If you have kids who aren’t fans of the dark  crack a glow stick for them, I won’t judge you, I promise.

Bring the binos.

It’s fun to bring binoculars along on a full moon hike to look at the night sky.

Or you can leave a telescope in your car at the trailhead for a little stargazing before or after the hike.

Warm up.

If it’s chilly in your neck of the woods leave a thermos of hot water in your car at the trailhead or bring along our our favorite Primus ETA LTE to fix a mug of cider or tea for the ride home.

Have you ever been on a night hike? Tell us about it in the comments below.

-Rebecca

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3 comments on “How to Plan A Night HIke

  1. […] It’s been a busy week and I didn’t get a lot written, but this article on kids and risk in the outdoors is the most viral thing I’ve ever written. How was your week? I spent Monday working on a video for our local tourism department on hiking with Brian Guice Media. It was one of those rare occasions when I was in front of a camera instead of behind the camera…eeks! Can’t wait to share the finished product with you.  Then I headed to Lander for a planning retreat for WY Outside, a coalition of various organizations all with the goal of getting Wyoming kids outdoors. It’s a great group of people, we even did a little bit of spelunking! Yesterday I was hiking in Colorado and we’re gearing up for a fun weekend and full moon hike. […]

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