Backpacking is a popular activity that blends hiking, camping, and wilderness survival. And it is something that can be easily adapted to fit just about any skill and experience level.
When most people think of New York, they immediately picture the bustling metropolis of New York City and the skyscrapers of Manhattan. However, the Empire State has much more to offer, with large areas of wilderness and state or national parks that are perfect for backpacking and camping. It is a popular place for residents and tourists to come to get a taste of backpacking.
Most of the time, when you go backpacking, you embark on a multi-day stay in the great outdoors. This means you must carry all of your supplies, from your food to your tent, with you on your back. And you must ensure you have all the essentials with you!
So how can you ensure you have everything in order before hitting the New York backpacking trails? Let’s find out!
Why Backpack in New York?
New York’s diverse landscape includes city skylines, mountains, forests, and coastlines. It is a breathtakingly beautiful state that beckons visitors to come and explore, and what better way to see it than by hiking?
Thousands of miles of trails crisscross the state and range from epic outdoor adventures like the Appalachian Trail or simple scenic hikes that are perfect for family camping.
And best of all, New York authorities have been working to make more and more trails accessible to people with disabilities.
According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation,
“DEC maintains hiking trails on many areas of Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks as well as on State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, and [other] Unique Areas. Most trails are marked with color-coded disks affixed to trees. Trail guides and maps corresponding to these markers have been developed for many locations. Find your next adventure using DECinfo Locator – an interactive map full of hiking trails, parking areas, campsites, lean-tos, conservation easements, and other information to help plan a hike on state-managed lands.”
Backpacking in New York is a great way to stay active, enjoy nature, spend time with friends and family, and keep yourself in shape. If you live in the state or are planning to visit, going on a backpacking adventure is a great way to spend your time- provided you are prepared!
Making the Perfect NY Backpacking Plan
To get ready for your backpacking trip, consider these preparatory tips:
- Go easy at first: Short overnight or 1-2 day hikes close to home can be just as amazing as longer hikes, and they are easier to plan for as a beginner.
- Get clothing and gear: You can buy gear, and you can also rent some camping equipment or borrow from someone you know who camps a lot.
- Plan your food: Remember to carry food and water as well as snacks and power foods to give yourself energy as you hike.
- Get ready for your trip: Condition yourself by doing some practice runs with setting up camp, starting a fire, and other basic skills you need to master.
- Check the little details: Check for regulations on camping, fire pits, and also specifics about alcohol, hunting, and even CBD laws and regulations.
- Flight restrictions: If you’re into drone flying to capture scenic views, you may also want to look at drone regulations for NY, since it tends to be a busy airspace compared to other states.
Hiking Tips for A Fun Time on NY Trails
One of the most vital rules for hiking, regardless of your skill or experience level, is to take someone with you. And if you can’t or don’t want to have someone with you, tell several people where you are going and when you will be back.
This ensures someone is with you to get help if something goes wrong, and people know when to notify someone if you have gone missing while on your backpacking trip! What other things can you do to ensure your time on the New York State trails are fun and safe?
Important safety tips and guidelines for New York backpacking can be found on the DEC website, but other vital tips for you to include the following:
- Hiking trails often are rough and rugged and can have you navigating over roots, rocks, and uneven terrain, so appropriate footwear is a must.
- Wearing the wrong kind of clothes and using the wrong types of gear on the trails can be uncomfortable and can also result in injuries.
- Read up on animal encounters and how to protect yourself as well as any wildlife you encounter on your hike.
- Travel alone only if you are skilled and experienced; even then, it should not be done lightly.
Know What You Are Getting Into
It is impossible to plan for everything but being as prepared as possible will go a long way in making sure your backpacking trip is a fun and safe one.
- Know the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Know your hiking route and any problem areas you might encounter.
- Check the New York DEC site for info on parking, rangers, and other assistance.
- Keep together when backpacking as a group and check in often.
- Sign in and out of all trail registers that you encounter.
- Call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS (1-833-697-7264) to report an emergency.
- Consider hiring a licensed backpack guide to help you on your hike.
Be a good neighbour and follow trail etiquette to ensure you are not a nuisance to fellow backpackers you encounter, even if you are a beginner.
- Be courteous to every person you encounter on the trail, regardless of skills.
- Hike in single file so as not to crowd the trail and hog all the easy hiking.
- Follow basic roadway traffic flow and stay on the right and pass on the left.
- Allow faster hikers to pass you by stopping and staying to the side.
- When approaching hikers, politely alert them of your desire to pass.
- Yield to oncoming hikers, and those going downhill must yield to uphill hikers.
- Hikers using bridges have the right of way and should be given full access.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance, respect them, and never feed or touch them.
- Park in designated areas and be careful not to block cars or access points.
Do Your Part to Protect New York’s Lands and Waters
Backpacking can be a wonderful chance to enjoy nature and disconnect from the world around you, but it is essential to leave the wildness in better shape than you found it.
- Know the rules and regulations of the area where you are hiking or camping.
- Know the Principles of Leave No Trace and be a good steward of nature.
- Don’t litter, and always take your trash out with you when you leave the park.
- Do not remove or damage trail markers, signs, and other trail guides.
- Stay on marked rails and don’t trample vegetation or damage the area nearby.
- Walk through, not around, mud and puddles, so you don’t erode the trails.
- Stay off steep, high-elevation trails, and always stay within your skill level.
- Brush off clothes and clean boot treads to avoid spreading invasive species.
- Check what is allowed in the park, and if smoking and CBD are permitted.
With these tips in mind, you can be better prepared to have a successful backpacking trip in the beautiful wilderness of New York State!