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Parks Victoria share advice for safe hiking practice during summer

Parks Victoria share advice for safe hiking practice during summer
January 7, 2022

Parks Victoria ranger Yohanna shares advice on best hiking practice so as to reap the proven physical, social and mental health benefits that come from spending time in nature.

Tip 1. Choose the right hike

With walks from just a few minutes, all the way up to 13-days in length in Victoria’s parks, there is something to suit everyone.

Match your walks and activities to your abilities, fitness and stamina.

Choosing the right hike means thinking about your fitness, the time you have available, what kind of things you want to see, and then picking something that is a good match for you.

To make this easier, there is a grading system used to let you know how easy or difficult a track is – the Australian Walking Track Grading System (AWTGS). Tracks are classified into five grades, with Grade 1 being the easiest and Grade 5 being the hardest.

The grades take into account experience required, steps, gradient, path quality and signage. A walk’s final grade is based upon the most difficult of these five criteria, rather than an average.

Look out for the grade symbols online, on visitor guides and signs to let you know what to expect on the hike you are interested in and choose one that is a match for you.

Tip 2. Plan ahead

Summer is a fantastic time to get out for a hike – but it’s important to do it safely so it’s fun for everyone. Hiking in summer comes with added risks, so make sure you:

  • Check the weather forecast. Remember to check the forecast again on the day you plan to hike in case your plans need to change
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Fill in a trip intention form and leave a copy with a reliable friend or family member
  • Be bushfire aware — check Fire Danger Ratings, fire restrictions, and Total Fire Bans for your route and your destination. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place
  • Download the VicEmergency app and set up watch zones for the areas you are planning to visit
  • Check the latest conditions and park closures before you leave home.

Tip 3. Beat the heat

Consider the best time of day for the hike. Set off early or late in the day and avoid the hottest part of the day. Ensure your summer hike doesn’t end in disaster by:

  • Having a plan in place if things change along the way, even if that means not reaching your destination
  • Carrying enough water! For a full day hike this means 3 to 4 litres of water per person. Some hikes may have water sources, but it’s best to carry more than you need, just in case
  • Keeping a look out for snakes in warm and sunny weather. Wear protective shoes, and even gaiters (material shin and ankle covers) if you can
  • Taking plenty of breaks and take cover in the shade when you can
  • Knowing the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Tip 4: Dress and pack appropriately

  • Wearing the right clothes, a hat and shoes to provide sun protection is so important when hiking, especially in summer. Make sure to also pack:
  • Sunscreen (don’t forget to reapply it if you’re out for several hours!)
  • Extra food like muesli bars, nuts, apples
  • A first aid kit and medical supplies for allergies and bites 
  • Spare clothing for all weather conditions
  • A fully charged smartphone. Use GPS location services and take a photo of a map before you set off or download an offline park map from Avenza.

Tip 5. Take care of our natural environment

Always stay on the marked trails while hiking. Walking off track damages sensitive vegetation, can disturb Aboriginal culture heritage artefacts, compacts the ground and can spread plant diseases. More important things to do to leave no trace while hiking:

  • Observe all safety signage
  • Stay behind barriers – this is for your safety too!
  • Take all rubbish home
  • Clean clothes and shoes before entering the park
  • If you’re considering an overnight hike, make sure you are familiar with our campfire safety tips.

Tip 6. Leave it to the experts

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready to help you discover our magnificent parks and waterways.

Using their expert knowledge and experience, Licensed Tour Operators do all the planning for you, supply equipment and ensure you’re in safe hands to ensure you get the most out of your hiking adventure.

Parks Victoria ranger Yohanna concludes by advising to get the most out of your hike, read all visitor safety tips before you go.

For some of the hikes you can do in parks this summer or to search by individual park go to

The Victorian Government is investing in new walking trail experiences, upgrading 4WD and biking tracks and improving accessibility in Victoria’s parks and reserves.

Images from top: A group of four hikers walk along the beach at Discovery Bay as part of the Great South West Walk; Cathedral Range State Park; Hiking Wilderness Coast Walk Croajingalong National Park; Licensed Tour Operators. All images courtesy Parks Victoria

Related Articles

8th April 2021 - Parks Victoria advise that time is ‘running out’ to save the Alpine National Park

2nd November 2020 - Victorian Government appoints new members to Parks Victoria Board

21st September 2020 - Parks Victoria passes 25 year landmark in protecting the Grampians

17th February 2020 - Parks Victoria collaborates to protect historic huts from bushfires

12th March 2019 - YMCA Victoria partners with Parks Victoria to deliver training for inclusive outdoor recreation program

8th January 2019 - Parks Victoria combats anti-social activities at Wilsons Promontory National Park

9th November 2018 - Parks Victoria announces $1.2 million infrastructure facelift for popular open spaces

18th September 2018 - New Parks Victoria Act looks to strengthen park management

31st August 2018 - Parks Victoria to trial health focused rangers

24th July 2018 - Parks Victoria welcomes first guests to revamped Point Hicks Lighthouse Reserve

12th December 2017 - Parks Victoria to employ 53 new Rangers

20th September 2017 - Former Parks Victoria Chief Executive launches Canadian-based consultancy

5th July 2017 - Parks Victoria acknowledges work of Indigenous ranger during NAIDOC week

9th February 2017 - Parks Victoria fined for dumping dirty water

9th January 2017 - Parks Victoria multi-million dollar credit card bill under investigation

26th December 2016 - Parks Victoria plan proposes luxury accommodation on Falls Creek to Hotham Alpine Crossing trail

20th December 2016 - Phillip Island Nature Parks head named new Parks Victoria Chief Executive

1st April 2016 - Distinguished environmentalist appointed to new Parks Victoria role

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