Adventuring Outside of State Parks – Know the Difference!

State parks provide a safe and fun place for many individuals and families to camp, but they lack the adventure of the backcountry. Taking the leap to camp beyond wfa certification online courses the boundaries of your state park in park backcountry or on forest service lands should not be taken lightly. The unique challenges of backcountry camping can provide a deeper connection to nature and a personal adventure, but staying safe, staying alive, and protecting the environment require greater knowledge in the backcountry.

Trip Planning Maps, Permits, and the Little Details
Planning a trip to your local park can be as easy as following a road map and picking up a map at the park office. In the backcountry, a good map is essential, and sometimes multiple maps are needed.

The maps that you will need are dependent on the type of trip you are taking. For example, there are backcountry regions of several national parks where trails are well marked and well traveled. The parks publish maps and trail descriptions online that are sufficient for short weekend trips during peak season. However, the same trail may not be easily navigated in the winter. USGS topographic maps show the lay of the land and water locations. They’re sold at outfitter shops and also online.

Popular backcountry trips, like Appalachian Trail hikes, often have guidebooks that describe each leg of a trail in detail and have specialized maps. Check your local bookstore or search online for a good guide. Also, search the Internet, because many people post descriptions of their trips, which can help you decide if a trip is for you, and can guide you while on the trail.

When camping in a state park, the first step is to register at the park office, and in the backcountry, there is a similar protocol. National parks require hikers to purchase inexpensive backcountry permits. Some wilderness areas, such as the Adirondack Park Wilderness, have additional registries located at certain trailheads. It’s important to register properly before beginning a backcountry trip so that you can be found in an emergency.

State parks list rules on park pamphlets and on signs. While “leave no trace” is always rule number one for the backcountry, there can be other regulations for a specific area. These rules can usually be found online, and might include mandatory use of bear canisters, or may ban pets on the trail.

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