From the fresh air to the amazing sights and sounds, hiking can be a very rewarding experience. However, it’s important to know that while you may feel like the only thing in the world while you’re hiking, other animals call nature home—and some of them can be very dangerous. When we think of wild animals while hiking, we mostly think of deer, elk, mountain lions, and, you guessed it, bears.

While these rarely attack the daily hiker, it has happened. With this being said, it’s best to take precautions while hiking and to ensure you understand how to avoid wild animals and keep them out of your campsite as best you can. While there are many wild animals that you may run into while out on the trail, bears are some of the most common. But there are things you can do to limit the chance of ever seeing these bears in the first place. Keep reading to learn some tips on how to avoid bears while hiking and what to do if you come across wildlife while hiking.

Make Noise

Bears are usually very spooked by humans. Whether they spot you from a mile away or hear the faintest sound, that’s usually enough to scare them off. It’s best to constantly make noise while hiking to avoid meeting a bear. Human and bear altercations usually happen when a hiker walks up on a bear without the bear knowing it. This can startle the bear, which might even lead to them charging you. Therefore, it’s best to constantly make noise. Here are some ways to make sound while hiking:

  • Bring a bear bell
  • Talk with a friend
  • Sing
  • Walk loudly
  • Talk with yourself
  • Bang sticks
  • Clap

Making sound while hiking can help you stay safe and out of sight from bears.

Properly Package Food

While it’s best to bring snacks on a hike, you might want to think otherwise if bears are around. Bears are extremely attracted to human food, which is why food is a top reason for bear attacks. So if you’re taking a short hike, we recommend not bringing any food with you at all. But if you’re backpacking or hiking for many miles, then bringing food is a must, but it should be stored properly.

Bear canisters are perfect in this regard. They are specifically designed to deter bears, and they help to seal off any smells. They make bear canisters of all shapes and sizes, so be sure to find one that suits your needs. If buying a bear canister is out of the question, then be sure to double bag your food and try to limit packing things with a strong fragrance. When you’re camping, you should also set up a bear hang so your food is less accessible.

Hike During Daylight Hours

Bears frequently roam during the early morning and late afternoon, so you’ll want to hike during daylight hours to limit the chance of running into a bear. While it may be hotter during this time of day, hiking during other times will increase the odds of a bear encounter. Although sunrise and sunset hikes are beautiful, it’s not worth the risk if you want to avoid wildlife encounters.

Carry Bear Spray

Although bear attacks are rare, they are possible. You’ll want to carry bear spray on you at all times while hiking in bear country. In the event that you come across a bear and the bear charges you, using your bear spray can be a matter of life and death. Once the bear gets near you and is acting aggressively, go ahead and spray the bear spray directly at the bear’s face. This should scare off the bear immediately.

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