You always get a little bit lost on your best hikes. You are lost in the beauty of the location. You get lost in your thoughts. If you take either of these things a little too far, however, you might actually get physically lost.
Don’t fret if you lose your way on an especially intriguing trail! Here are some actions you can take if you get lost hiking, straight from the United States Forest Service.
Take your surroundings in even if you don’t recognize any landmarks. You are now using this location as your starting point. This will keep you from walking in circles.
Use your phone to take pictures of the location even if you don’t have a signal. You can use the pictures later to determine if you are backtracking.
No matter where you are, you gain nothing by getting emotional. Taking in your surroundings will help with this. Occupy your mind by thinking about how you came to your current location.
If you are on a trail, make sure that you stay on that trail.
If you have a GPS, a map or a compass, trust them. You may have more than one landmark that looks similar to each other. The directional tools have a better idea of where you are than you do. Let them guide you.
Do not continue walking for walking’s sake. If you are tired, take a rest. You should also stop moving if it is getting dark or you are physically hurt.
If you are near water or drainage, keep this in mind: As they flow downhill, they usually get closer to roads. Follow them if you have no other way to get your direction.
Check your phone periodically for a signal. Even if you cannot get on a network, you can use the number of networks that your phone picks up to direct yourself towards civilization. As the number of networks increases, you can be somewhat sure that you are moving towards other people.
You have tools on your side if you get lost, so use them! Your most important tool is your mind. Calm it and let it lead you back to safety.