It’s time to pull out your hiking and camping gear, take inventory of your supplies, and head for the trails. If you’re headed somewhere new this year, make sure your vehicle is prepared for the journey ahead. This way, your hike will be the real adventure, not the drive, which could otherwise involve getting lost, getting stuck on forest roads, or experiencing damage to your car along the way.

Here are some tips on how to arrive at the trailhead safely and without mishap.

Car Maintenance

If you’re heading out of town for your big hike, make sure your car is in tip-top condition and ready for the road trip. This means a tune up might be in order — including new spark plugs, an oil change, and a brake check at minimum. Also, check the wear of your tires to make sure they’re in good condition for fuel efficiency and ready to handle rugged forest roads.

You can check the tire tread with nothing more than a penny and a quarter, by measuring how far the tread comes up on each coin in different places on individual tires. Search online for details to see how it’s done. If your tires are wearing thin, it’s probably a good time to replace them.

Opt for a set of tires that are heavy duty enough to handle unpaved roads, but comfortable enough to drive long distances on the highway. Michelin’s standard touring all-season tires are great for all different types of terrain, as well as any weather conditions you may encounter.


When it comes to getting to the trailhead without hassle, a GPS device can help assure you find your way safely and efficiently. When you’re looking to get away from civilization though, this can be tricky. Many car-specific GPS devices don’t get service once you’re on less traveled roads, and neither do Smartphones. Once you wind up on forest service roads, which commonly lead to the most remote trailheads, you could be out of luck with those devices.

Luckily there are wilderness-specific GPS devices available from Garmin and Magellan. Whichever GPS device you choose, make sure to do some product research before purchasing to make sure the one you select will fit your travel needs.

Emergency Kit

While the hope is that you’ll never find yourself in a bind, it’s a good idea to have a car emergency kit on board just in case. An emergency kit should contain several essentials, including a first aid kit that is stocked with supplies, a fire extinguisher, road flares in case you get a flat tire at night, a car jack and crank, a flashlight, and jumper cables. It’s also a good idea to keep a small reserve of cash in small bills in your emergency kit. With a properly equipped kit, you’ll be prepared for the unexpected on your hiking adventure.

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