5 Essentials to Pack on Your Next Hike

Hiking in the mountains of East Tennessee is one of the best ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature in the south. If you’re looking for that Great Smoky Mountains experience without any of the crowds, then immerse yourself in the nearby Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area!

You'll find over 150 miles of marked trails to enjoy on your next vacation into the forest. There are literally trails for everyone: from easy ones that are less than a mile to those are difficult and would take most of the day to complete.

Whether you are new to hiking or have many hikes under your belt, it is important to always pack the essential items that you may need. You'll use some things on every hike while others are there just in case there is an emergency. Check out these 5 essentials to pack on your next hike:

reusable water bottle used for hydrating while hiking

1. Plenty of Water

You probably already guessed this one. Packing water for the hike is the most important thing you can have on the trail. There is no guarantee that you will find a water source, or that the source will be clean if you run out of water halfway through your hike. Always pack more water than you think you will need and be mindful of how quickly you are drinking it on the trail.

hiking trail map and water bottle out on the trail

2. Maps & Navigation

One of the easiest ways to get lost while hiking is to not have a plan or idea of where you are going. Always grab a trail map before venturing out into the Big South Fork. Remember that cell phones are not always the best to use due to limited cell phone coverage. Consider using a GPS system or paper maps to help you navigate your way through the forest.

eating a granola bar while hiking

3. Hiking Snacks

Having something to snack on in your bag is always a great idea. Choose snacks that will fuel your body well like nuts, dried fruit, or granola bars. Packing food in your backpack may also allow you to try a new trail or two once you get out into the forest.

first aid kit for hiking

4. First Aid Kit

While we hope that you won't need to use a band-aid or antiseptic out on the trail, it’s always smart to be prepared. First Aid Kits are both small and lightweight, so they are easy to always have in your hiking backpack. A thorn or even the tiniest of cuts can significantly affect your hike and cause you to cut the trip short.

hiker holding onto her hiking hat

5. Sun Protection

While some of the trails in the Big South Fork are covered with plenty of shade from trees, others have less sun coverage. Make sure to pack sun protection items such as sunglasses, a hat, and sunblock. Packing a lightweight, long sleeved shirt to cover up can help as well. Blocking yourself from the sun will not only be more comfortable but it will also help you conserve energy and water consumption.

Remember these 5 essentials to pack on your next hike when planning to enjoy the trails that canvas the Big South Fork. Which trail will you try out first?