Safety Tips for Hiking in Alberta, Including Bear Awareness

Bear Awareness

Hiking in Alberta - AIP Safety

With summertime right around the corner, many Albertans and visitors are getting ready for hiking season! Alberta offers some of the world’s best hiking trails and stunning sceneries, with a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. Hiking is a great and fun way to spend time in nature while staying active.

Whether you’re hiking alone, with friends, or you’ve signed up for a local hiking tour package, it’s important to stay safe on the trails with the following tips. We touch on staying hydrated, what types of food to eat, what to pack, what to wear, being aware of your surroundings, and taking advantage of safety courses in Calgary.

Keep reading to learn more!

Stay Fueled and Hydrated

Your body needs fuel before, during, and after a hike to maintain your energy levels and to help with muscle recovery. While saturated fats and protein are all part of a healthy diet, they generally take longer to digest, which might make you feel sluggish during the hike. Instead, we recommend eating healthy carbs two hours before your hike, such as:

  • Whole-grain cereal or pasta
  • Whole-wheat toast
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Yogurt with granola

It’s important to hydrate before the hiking trip and stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration on a hike can cause nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, headache, and cramped muscles.

Be sure to pause for a snack break or at the end of the hike, depending on the duration. We recommend packing a banana, trail mix, dried fruits, or granola bars.

What to Wear and Pack

What you wear on a hike can make all the difference in your experience - and with Alberta’s unpredictable weather, you could be sweating in pants and a sweater by mid-hike or freezing in shorts and a T-shirt. Of course, the type of footwear you choose is one of the most important factors. Good quality hiking shoes can prevent injury and fatigue.

Here are some clothing-related tips for a comfortable hike:

  • Dress in layers
  • Avoid cotton and opt for breathable clothing
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Wear hiking shoes/boots or footwear that offers excellent support

Knowing what to pack depends on the weather and how long the hike will be. While you should bring some essentials, the lighter you pack, the better. We recommend packing:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Extra clothing and rain protection
  • A simple first-aid kit

Staying Safe and Aware

Plan ahead for your hiking trip by checking the weather forecast, looking up the trail and difficulty level, and starting early to avoid the intense heat in the afternoon. Get plenty of rest before a hike, listen to your body, take breaks during the hike, and don’t forget to stretch after a hike.

Stay safe on the trail by being aware of your surroundings, including closed pathways, hazardous areas, and any wildlife spottings. Alberta is a bear country, and it’s not uncommon to encounter one on your hike. Bears are more likely to be found near running water and dense vegetation, while noise keeps them away.

Take a Bear Awareness Course

In a bear awareness course, you will learn how to handle potential encounters, response techniques, how to safely use and transport bear spray, first aid treatment, and more. Beyond that, completing bear awareness training will give you confidence and peace of mind to safely traverse the many hiking trails Alberta has to offer while helping to protect our bear population.