Outdoor Safety & Ethics

Safety tip: All forest visitors are encouraged to notify family or friends of their trip itinerary including their expected return schedule. It is common for weather conditions to change suddenly in mountainous terrains; sunny mornings can turn into stormy afternoons. Always be prepared for bad weather. Remember you can't count on cell phone coverage in remote areas!

The 10 essentials you should carry include:

  • Navigation: Map, altimeter, compass, [GPS device], [PLB or satellite communicators], [extra batteries or battery pack] (*Don't rely solely on a mobile device for navigation.)
  • Headlamp/flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Fire: Matches, candle or firestarter - make sure matches are protected.
  • Knife: plus any repair kit
  • First aid: carry items that take care of blisters, headaches, foot care, insect repellent etc.
  • Sun protection: glasses, sunscreen, sun protective clothing
  • Emergency items: light shelter, mirror and whistle.
  • Extra clothing: Raingear and non-cotton layers.
  • Extra water: at least one quart, means to purify
  • Extra food: high energy snack such as chocolate, jerky or protein bars.

Visitor Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about forest guidelines for camping, campfires and pets as well as some key safety tips.

Safety Tips for Burned Areas

Hikers ALWAYS assume risks when entering trails in natural areas, but in burned areas those risks are greater. Your safety is in your hands! Review these tips for minimizing your exposure to natural hazards.

Wildfire Safety Tips for Outdoor Recreation

Learn what you can do when planning an outdoor vacation in an area that has potential to be impacted by wildfire or wildfire smoke, what to do if you encounter wildfire and other wildfire safety tips for outdoor recreation.

Winter Safety

Winter recreation is popular on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Please review safety tips and regulations before you go. Be prepared and know your limits. 

Hiking During Hunting Season

Hunting is allowed across most of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Learn more about how you and your family can stay safe while out on trails and campsites during hunting season from our patners at Washington Trails Association.


Cougars, bears, and other large mammals are some of the wildlife that call Washington's Cascade Range home. Learn more about these animals and how to share the forest safely. Remember to NEVER feed wildlife, help keep wildlife wild.

Learn more about visiting and recreating in bear country from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Learn more about cougars and safety from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Leave No Trace

We need every visitor's help in keeping our public lands healthy. Learn some key principles you can practice to help forest ecosystems stay intact for future generations. Also be aware that additional regulations apply in all designated Wilderness areas.