Houston Area Trails & More Message Board › Trails that are safe to solo hike- suggestions?

Trails that are safe to solo hike- suggestions?

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A former member
Post #: 4
Which trails do y'all recommend for hiking solo- but safely? I usually go to Pedernales or McKinney. I would like to venture out a bit more. I prefer clearly marked trails. I like to take my time and enjoy the scenery: I am slow.
Mary
user 4860345
Bay City, TX
Post #: 30
I'm a fan of Brazos Bend - get lots of use, in a populated area, and has wide trails.
A former member
Post #: 5
Thank you, Mary. I will consider this...
A former member
Post #: 27
Hey Jo! I salute you for your desire to hit the trails solo. Being safe is the number one priority, and as a woman you have to consider additional factors when hiking solo, but you'll have a wonderful time if you don't allow fear to overwhelm opportunity. Everyone has a different comfort level, so you'll have to find your own zone and break safety down into specific concerns and assess yourself on those various factors. They can range from things like inclement weather, injury, illness, animals, plants & fruits, other humans(!), etc. I've found that many concerns can be mitigated in part with knowledge, skills, techniques, technology, proper planning, and the right gear. There are a lot of good resources on hiking, backpacking and survival at your public library.

I'd be glad to give you some specific suggestions if you help narrow down the possibilities. For example:
- What type of hike (urban, out of town, or wilderness)?
- What type of terrain (difficulty level)?
- How far are you willing to travel?

In very general terms, I find that most National and State Parks, Natural Areas, and Wildlife Refuges are well-managed. This includes things like printed maps, availability of information on the internet, good signage, well-maintained trails, etc. Some do a better job than others, but you usually have to drive further to get to these places. Mary's suggestion of Brazo's Bend SP is a good one given its proximity.

State National Forests offer nice scenery and solitude, but the level of trail conditions vary considerably. You probably want to do these types of trails later on, but you may want to try these as a part of a group hike to get an idea of what they're like.

When you get to Municipal and County Parks, they are all over the map (excuse my pun). Some are wonderful, others are absolutely abysmal. I have found that Sugar Land does a really good job. So does the Woodlands. Within Harris County, results vary by precinct. You may want to look into some of the Greenway trails if you want to get further out of town and get some additional mileage in.

Happy Trails!
Joe
A former member
Post #: 6
Thank you, Joe! I must admit, it is the human component that I fear the most! I want to become comfortable on many types of terrain- especially loose gravel.
A former member
Post #: 28
Jo,

Let me state up front that, as a woman, you have to take extra precautions and find your own personal comfort zone. Everyone has their own zone on the risk taking spectrum, so know yourself and respect your limits.

Having said that, though, I've not come across any statistics that show that the percentage of human attacks in the wilderness are higher than average. I know this may not be a popular position and I hate talking statistics because I know it only takes ONE TIME, but the point I am trying to make is statistically you are more prone to human attack in the presence of... humans!

It may not be obvious, but many of our fears are imagined, not real. In fact, I once read that FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. If you think about it, fear is simply an emotional response. In other words, it is something in our heads and not in the real world, yet it seems so real when we experience it. Risks, on the other hand, are real and those need to be understood and planned for, but many of the demons and dragons lurk only in the dark recesses of our minds. Being safe and prepared and exercising caution is always prudent, but fears and phobias can adversely affect the quality of life. That is why confronting your fears and slaying your dragons is important and liberating, not just in hiking, but in life in general.

There is a primal fear of being alone and some comfort that we take when we're with others, but the chance of being attacked by someone in the city is far greater than in the middle of the wilderness. We also have a primal fear of the dark as our imagination tends to run wild at each sound or movement. However, one interesting statistic to note is that crimes occur more frequently during a full moon when it's bright at night than at any other time; hence, the original of the word "lunatic."

It's been said that when people are at the end of their lives, most of the regrets they have are not things they did, but things they did not. That's pretty profound to me and something I have taken to heart. I am not advocating recklessness or putting yourself in harm's way. My point is to simply try and point out the difference between risks (which are real) and fears (which are mostly imagined).

95% of my hikes are solo and I've been to some extremely remote places. I've been places where I've had to hike 130 miles before finding another road. I've found myself in dangerous, life-threatening situations several times, but never due to humans. I know I am a guy and that's different, but I've not run into anyone in hockey masks with chainsaws, unabombers, bigfoot, werewolves, vampires, boogiemen, headless horsemen, or zombies. Instead, the people I've met on the trail have been very good-hearted, helpful, and generous and, frankly, I feel much safer hiking in the wilderness in complete darkness than through some of the city parks during the day!

Hiking alone presents many risks, but those can be offset with knowledge, skill, planning, proper gear, etc. And, hiking alone presents many advantages. You can go where you want, when you want, as far as you want, stop when you want, etc. Freedom!

As I mentioned before, everyone has their own comfort zone, so know yourself and respect your limits, but at the same time, challenge yourself and don't be afraid to push the limit. If you think about the times in your life you are especially proud of or times you've had the most fun, it is usually when you've taken risks, got outside of your comfort zone, and accomplished things you didn't think were previously possible. Carpe diem!

Happy Trails,
Joe
Mary
user 4860345
Bay City, TX
Post #: 31
Sometimes, when I feel like I'm in a vulnerable situation, I carry pepper spray designed for grizzly bears. Not only do they have a further reach, they're bigger and more visible to help motivate a potential attacker to move on.

I also had an idea which I never tried. I thought about making fake pamphlets that I could ‘accidently’ drop in front of a creepy guy paying a little too much attention to me. They would be entitled ‘What You Need to Know about Leprosy’ or ‘What to Expect During Your Flesh Eating Bacteria Treatment.’ Might make him think twice.
A former member
Post #: 7
Joe, thank you very much...this helps. I am trying to solo hike so that I may overcome a very specific fear. That said, I know I will feel better putting it in focus and proper preparations WILL make me more confident. I think I will start closer to home, then venture out.

I am impressed with your hiking resume and will. It would have seemed insurmountable to me to hike for 130 miles alone....you are made of some tough stuff, Joe! I thank you for the information. I appreciate it.
A former member
Post #: 8
You know, Mary, bear spray doesn't seem like a bad idea! I think, too, that the threat of necrotizing bacteria is enough to hold anyone at bay!! Thanks, chica. :}
Donna J.
user 12460503
Houston, TX
Post #: 13
Good discussion!
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