What could be more incredible than watching the sun rise from the top of a mountain? The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a beautiful place on an ordinary day, but once the first rays of sunlight peak over the mountain range, it’s something pretty special. Planning a sunrise hike can be tricky, but the extra preparation is always worth the pay off.
1. Pick a trail
Choose an easier trail you are familiar with. Pick a shorter, relatively easy, trail with incredible views. You don’t necessarily have to look to far-off destinations or the tallest peak to have an incredible sunrise hike. Sometimes those smaller summits with less mileage will provide some of the most incredible views at sunrise. Pick a trail carefully and mindfully.
2. Dress like an onion
Always prepare and pack for temps that are 20 degrees cooler than the expected forecast calls for. Without the warmth from the sun, the air is cool and brisk, even during the summer months. You’ll want to dress in layers, and always pack extra layers and a jacket. It’s important to think about the types of weather you’ll encounter when you head out for a sunrise hike, or any hike for that matter.
3. Be prepared
Bring a headlamp with extra batteries. Having a reliable lighting source is key when hiking in the dark, and don’t forget to pack an extra set of batteries! Also you should pack your gear carefully and know how to read a map and use a compass. A mug or Hydroflask of hot tea or coffee is the perfect morning pick-me-up for a sunrise hike.
Time it right. It’s important that you time out your hike accordingly, so that you don’t miss dawn. Give yourself 30 extra minutes of time to kill when planning your hike. Hiking in the dark requires a bit more patience, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to reach the summit before the sun comes up. Determine how early you are willing to wake up to leave your home and consider the length of the drive you have when making your plans.
5. Pay attention
Be mindful of any wildlife, campsites, or other hikers on the trail. Pay close attention to your surroundings and maintain solid footing as much as possible.
6. Hike in groups
Use the buddy system. Never hike solo, especially at night. Bring a hiking buddy or buddies along to enjoy the trip with you. Groups of 3 or more is an ideal number when hiking at night into the early morning. There is power in numbers.
7. Leave your plans
You should also always plan on leaving your exact plans with a friend or family member to let them know where you plan to hike and how long you intend to be gone for.
8. Don’t bail
Set an alarm, and stick to it! That 3 am alarm clock isn’t going to be pretty, but you’ll be glad you went through with your plan. Sunrise hikes can be an awesome way to start your morning off right with the proper planning and execution.