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DEC reminds visitors to focus on safety as summer hiking season begins

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today reminded visitors to New York’s outdoor spaces to focus on safety before they head out to their outdoor adventures in the state’s wild and beautiful destinations. Ahead of this summer’s recreational season, DEC continues to advance actions to promote public safety and improve visitor experience.

“Recreating safely and responsibly starts with planning ahead before visiting the Adirondacks, Catskills, and any of New York’s wild places,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Preparing for potential dangers and changing weather conditions and knowing your limits before hiking into the back country can mean the difference between life and death. To protect yourself and others, I’m encouraging outdoor adventurers to make plan ahead and make smart decisions to prevent accidents before they occur.”

Visitation to State Forest Preserve lands is typically highest during the summer months. In partnership with State agencies, local municipalities, and private entities, DEC is working to protect public safety, improve the visitor experience during the busy season, and safeguard sensitive ecosystems. Using recommendations outlined by the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG) and Catskills Strategic Planning Advisory Group (CAG), as well as input from local and community partners and outdoors enthusiasts, New York State continues to implement new strategies and adaptively manage the ongoing safety and resource needs of both Forest Preserve regions. For more information, visit online here and here.

Be Prepared 

Wear proper gear and attire, including sturdy, comfortable boots.

  • Moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that keep your skin dry and help regulate your body temperature in both cold and warm weather – avoid cotton as it holds moisture;
  • Layered clothing is recommended even for summer hikes;
  • Light-colored clothing, which will make it easier to see ticks
  • Waterproof, sturdy, and comfortable shoes or boots (no flip-flops);
  • A watch or other time-keeping device;
  • Trekking poles will reduce leg fatigue and joint pain; and
  • Snowshoes and traction devices in the winter.

Hikers and others heading outdoors should always let someone know where they are going, when they plan to return, and should provide updates if there are any changes to the plan. Anyone heading out needs to be realistic about their fitness and skill level and not overestimate their abilities or underestimate the weather conditions.

10 Hiking Essentials 
Carry these essentials in a day pack on all hikes for a safe and enjoyable experience.


  • Map
  • Compass
  • GPS system
  • Extra batteries


  • Waterproof/windproof jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Thermal undergarments (pack extra)
  • Wool socks (pack extra)
  • Goggles – Winter
  • Face mask – Winter


  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Lanterns
  • Extra batteries


  • Use a pre-made kit or build your own


  • Whistle
  • Signal mirror
  • Duct tape
  • Pocket knife/multi-tool, etc.
  • Bright colored cloth


  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Lighter
  • Fire starters


  • Choose high protein and high calorie items
  • Pack extra food


  • Pack at least 2 liters per person
  • Carry more than you think you will need
  • Water filtration or purifying system


  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Bug Repellent
  • Bug Net


  • Tent
  • Space Blanket
  • Tarp
DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Those planning a trip should consider going with at least one other person. Hiking alone can be dangerous. Also monitor trail conditions before your arrival and during your hike. Trail condition resources include: Adirondacks areaCatskills areaFinger Lakes area. These and many more hiking safety tips are on the DEC’s Hike Smart website.

New Yorkers are encouraged to Love Our New York Lands all year by practicing Leave No Trace principles and by recreating safely, sustainably, and hiking in suitable conditions based on weather and experience level. For more information, click here.

VIDEO LINKS: Soundbites of DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos discussing the importance of safety in the outdoors earlier this week: