Safe Hiking in New Hampshire

We want you to be safe on the trails! The N.H. Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest are partners in a mountain safety education program called "hikeSafe" to help get the word out on what hikers need to know.

As part of this program, the Hiker Responsibility Code is posted on hikeSafe signs at all major trailheads in New Hampshire. The code applies to all hikers, from beginners on a short hike to experienced outdoor enthusiasts embarking on an expedition. Please practice the elements of the code and share the code with fellow trekkers. This will help increase responsibility and reduce the need for Search and Rescue efforts.

Voluntary Hike Safe Card Available

hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code

hikeSafeYou are responsible for

  • With knowledge and gear. Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
  • To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you’ll return and your emergency plans.
  • To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
  • To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.
  • For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
  • To share the hiker code with others.

hikeSafe: It's Your Responsibility.

Additional resources for hiking preparation, including how to plan your trip and what to know if you're hiking with children or a group, can be found at

Recommended clothing and equipment for hikers

For Summer Day Hikes:

The Ten Essentials:

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Warm Clothing:
    • Sweater or Pile Jacket
    • Long Pants (wool or synthetic)
    • Hat (wool)
  4. Extra Food and Water
  5. Flashlight or Headlamp
  6. Matches/Firestarters
  7. First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
  8. Whistle
  9. Rain/Wind Jacket and Pants
  10. Pocket Knife

Also important to take on day hikes:

Sturdy Footwear and Extra Socks
Trash Bag (for trash or rain protection)
Light Plastic Tarp or "Space" Blanket
Insect Repellant
Gloves or Mittens
Personal Medications
Extra Batteries

Add for Overnight Trips and Groups:

Sleeping Bag
Foam Pad
Tent or Other Shelter
Stove, Fuel
Pots, Cup, Bowl, Spoon
Water Purification
Toothbrush, Towel, etc.
Extra Clothing

Add for Winter:

Extra Warm Clothing:
- Insulated Parka
- Extra Mittens
Insulated Boots

Add for above Treeline:

Face Mask
Ice Axe

Add for Avalanche Terrain:

Avalanche Transceiver
Avalanche Probe
Snow Shovel

There and Back
To have a safe, enjoyable outdoor experience and help reduce search and rescue efforts... BE PREPARED.

Proper planning and preparation before you go will help you have a safe and memorable trip. Remember to practice the Hiker Responsibility Code to ensure everyone's safety. It's your responsibility.

In case of an accident or emergency, call the N.H. State Police at 1- 800-525-5555 or 911. Be sure to give specific details concerning you, your emergency, your location and a call-back number.

Notice: In New Hampshire, if you or anyone in your hiking group acts recklessly -- or fails to practice proper preparation as outlined by the hiker responsibility code -- resulting in Search and Rescue, you could be liable to pay the costs of your search and rescue mission. (Click for text of New Hampshire RSA 153-A:24)

For more information on hiking safety, contact or visit:

White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
New Hampton, NH  03256

NH Outdoor Council
PO Box 157
Kearsarge, NH 03847-0157

New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation
PO Box 1856, Concord, NH 03301-1856

Appalachian Mountain Club
PO Box 298, Gorham, NH 03581-0298
Offers mountain leadership program, various backcountry skills workshops and other specialty courses.

Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO)
PO Box 3150
Conway, NH 03818
Offers Outdoor/Wilderness Leadership School (OWLS), Advanced Leadership & Emergency Care (ALEC), Wilderness Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), and other wilderness and emergency medicine programs.

Randolph Mountain Club
Randolph, NH 03570

Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School
Offers private and group instruction in backcountry travel, 4-season climbing, and other aspects of mountaineering.

International Mountain Climbing School
Offers private and group instruction in backcountry travel, 4-season climbing, and other aspects of mountaineering. Staff can be hired for talks and presentations.

Mountain Guides Alliance
Offers private and group instruction in backcountry travel, 4-season climbing, and other aspects of mountaineering. Staff can be hired for talks and presentations.

U.S. Geological Survey
Finding Your Way With Map and Compass
A nifty fact sheet that explains how to use a map and compass. Check it out.

Views From the Top
NH Trail Conditions forum (click here)

Avalanche Bulletins
Mount Washington Observatory:
Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines:

About Us
NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

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