Hiking Solo: Safety Tips for Encounters with Predatory Wildlife

Hiking Solo: Safety Tips for Encounters with Predatory Wildlife

Hiking solo can be a wonderful experience. With over 200 mountain ranges and thousands of miles of trails in the US, there is so much potential to explore, wearing your Gnara pants and having adventures on your own. That said, it’s essential to be prepared for everything, including potential encounters with wildlife such as black bears, brown bears, moose, and mountain lions. Here's how to stay safe before encountering them and what to do if you come face-to-face.

Encounter with Black Bears


Fun fact: Black bears live in 41 states, and while they’re actually quite adorable, that doesn’t make them less threatening (please don’t pet them).

Precautions If You’re Hiking in Black Bear Territory:

Make Noise: There's no need to be stealthy! Black bears are often shy and will avoid humans if they hear them coming. Instead of tiptoeing through the woods, try to make yourself known (without being disrespectful).

Carry Bear Spray: Keep bear spray readily accessible on your belt or backpack strap. Ensure you know how to use it effectively.

If You Encounter One

Remain Calm: You might find her eating berries, but you should still take the situation seriously. Stay calm, but make loud noises, such as clapping your hands. Avoid sudden movements, and back away slowly while facing the bear.

Do Not Run: Running may trigger a chase response.

Use Bear Spray: Only use bear spray if the bear approaches aggressively as a last resort.

Encounter with Brown Bears

brown bear

Brown bears, also known as grizzly bears, inhabit regions of Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. Despite their ability to consume up to 90 pounds of food per day, it's important to note that their diet rarely includes humans.

Precautions If You’re Hiking in Brown Bear Territory

Know the Signs: Brown bears often leave claw marks on trees or overturned rocks. Stay observant of your surroundings. 

Don’t Wander Off Trail: If you’re wearing our Go There Pants or Shorts, you won’t have to walk far to find a place to pee.

Carry Bear Spray: Keep bear spray readily accessible on your belt or backpack strap. Ensure you know how to use it effectively.

If You Encounter One

Stay Calm: Avoid making sudden movements or loud noises.

Make Yourself Look Big: Raise your arms above your head, open your jacket, and speak firmly to assert your presence.

Back Away Slowly: Slowly retreat while facing the bear, avoiding direct eye contact. If attacked, use bear spray or play dead: If a grizzly bear charges or attacks you, use bear spray if you have it. If not, play dead by lying face down on the ground, protecting your neck and vital organs with your hands. Stay still until the bear leaves the area (20 minutes or so).

Encounter with Moose

Precautions If You’re Hiking in Moose Territory

Keep Your Distance: Moose are typically solitary animals but can become aggressive if they feel threatened (tbh, same). Maintain a safe distance and say, "wow," if you see one.

Be Alert: Watch for signs of moose activity such as tracks, droppings, or browsing vegetation. You don’t want to surprise a moose.

If You Encounter One

Give Space and Be Quiet: If you spot a moose, give it plenty of space to avoid feeling threatened.

Back Away Slowly: If the moose shows signs of agitation, back away slowly while speaking softly. If the moose starts charging you, run away (they usually won’t chase you). If it knocks you down, curl up in a ball and wait for it to leave.

Encounter with Mountain Lions

Precautions If You’re Hiking in Mountain Lion Territory

Be aware of Your Surroundings: Mountain lions are elusive and often hunt at dawn or dust. Keep an eye out for fresh prints or signs of mountain activity, and monitor trail news to stay privy about mountain lion sightings in the area. 

If You Encounter One

Do Not Approach: Maintain a safe distance and avoid approaching the mountain lion.

Make Yourself Look Big: Stand tall, raise your arms, and open your jacket to appear larger. Unlike brown bear protocol, do not crouch or make yourself small. If looking bigger does not scare the mountain lion off, throw rocks, sticks, or your backpack in its direction. As a final resort, start throwing things at the mountain lion if the previous measures did not work.

Back Away Slowly: Back away slowly while facing the mountain lion, avoiding sudden movements.

Remember, the likelihood of being attacked by one of these animals is rare, and hiking solo offers unparalleled opportunities for adventure and self-discovery. By following safety tips and preparation protocol, you can have fun, stay safe, and learn a whole lot about the beautiful mountain ranges of the US. 

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