Know Before You Go - Hiking

Be Prepared

A well-planned outing can make the difference between a life-long memory and a disaster you hope to forget as soon as possible. Beautiful, sunny conditions where you live won't necessarily guarantee you the same when you're planning to hike a trail that's located at an elevation of 5000 feet.

This page is dedicated to helping you think through the items you should consider to make your trip as enjoyable and safe as possible.


Before you leave for an activity on the Forest, please be sure to check whether or not you need a permit or pass. Required permits and passes are listed for each rec site in the trip planning section.


Maps are critical for helping you find your recreation site and to help ensure you don't get lost one you're there. It is especially critical to have a good detailed map before heading out into Wilderness areas or the backcountry.

The Umatilla National Forest sells visitor maps for many Forests in Oregon and Washington. Detailed maps of our ranger districts, USGS quadrangle maps, and Wilderness maps are also available.

We offer information on the maps we have available and how to get them in our Maps & Publications section.

Weed Free Feed Required

As part of a larger effort to reduce invasive species on national forest lands, weed-free feed is required in the 17 national forests and the Crooked River National Grasslands of the Pacific Northwest.

Livestock owners and others are required to use feed that is either commercially processed feed or crop products certified to be free of weed seeds. All hay, cubed hay, straw, mulch, and other such products used or stored on national forest lands must be state certified as weed free.

  • Weed-Free Feed Requirements
    [links to Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region site for explanation and details]
  • Weed-Free Forage Providers
  • Weed-Free Forage Progam

Wilderness Trips

Special considerations need to be taken before you begin your wilderness excursion. The following links will help you plan your trip:

Current Conditions

Check the Current Conditions page for links to the National Weather Service forecasts, road condition information, wildfire information, as well as Ranger District recreation condition updates and district contact information for local information.

Hiking Tips (The 10 Essentials)

If you are a newcomer to hiking in Oregon, a few words of caution: weather is unpredictable and changes rapidly. Your trip will be more pleasant if you are prepared for rain or snow even on a sunny summer day. Water found along the trail should always be treated if you decide to drink it.

The 10 essentials you should carry include:

  1. Map and compass
  2. Flashlight and batteries.
  3. Matches, candle or firestarter - make sure matches are protected.
  4. Small knife.
  5. First aid kit - carry items that take care of blisters, headaches, etc.
  6. Sunglasses, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
  7. Mirror and whistle.
  8. Raingear and extra clothing.
  9. Water - at least one quart. 
  10. Extra food - high energy snack such as candy, jerky or meat bars.

Remember: you can't count on cell phone coverage in remote areas!

Be Safe

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Travel with a companion

You don't want to be by yourself in case of an emergency. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person. Include such details as the make, year, and license plate of your car, the equipment you're bringing, the weather you've anticipated, and when you plan to return. If you'll be entering a remote area, your group should have a minimum of four people; this way, if one is hurt, another can stay with the victim while two go for help. If you'll be going into an area that is unfamiliar to you, take along someone who knows the area or at least speak with those who do before you set out. If an area is closed, do not go there. Know ahead of time the location of the nearest telephone or ranger station in case an emergency does occur on your trip.

Be in good physical condition

Set a comfortable pace as you hike. A group trip should be designed for the weakest member of the group. If you have any medical conditions, discuss your plans with your health care provider and get approval before departing. Make sure you have the skills you need for your camping or hiking adventure. You may need to know how to read a compass, erect a temporary shelter, or give first aid. Practice your skills in advance. If your trip will be strenuous, get into good physical condition before setting out. If you plan to climb or travel to high altitudes, make plans for proper acclimatization to the altitude.

Think about your footing while traveling

Think about your footing while traveling near cliffs. Trees and bushes can't always be trusted to hold you. Stay on developed trails or dry, solid rock areas with good footing.

Wear appropriate clothing

Wear appropriate clothing for the trail conditions and season.

Check your equipment

Keep your equipment in good working order. Inspect it before your trip. Do not wait until you are at the trailhead. Be sure to pack emergency signaling devices.

Be weather wise

Keep an eye on current and predicted weather conditions. In this area, weather can change very quickly. Know the signs for approaching storms or changing weather conditions. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams, and rocks during lightning storms. Find shelter in a densely forested area at a lower elevation. Even in the summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermia.