5 Essentials for Hiking at Curt Gowdy State Park

When it comes to packing and planning for a hike we’ve all heard about the ’10 Essentials’ — a list of 10 items that you should always have in your daypack.

Here they are:

  • Navigation tool
  • Sun protection
  • Insulation
  • Illumination
  • First aid supplies
  • Fire
  • Repair kit
  • Nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Emergency shelter

I’m all about being prepared for an emergency, but I’m also all for packing light so I can move fast, especially when accompanied by children and all of their extra gear.

(and by gear I mean snacks)

We’ve found ourselves at Curt Gowdy State Park a lot this spring and summer. Maybe it’s because the trails dry up at Gowdy so quickly or maybe it’s because of our Navigation School. I don’t know why but I do know that when I’m headed there most of the ’10 Essentials’ stay in the car at the trailhead.

Here’s why.

When I’m just out for a few hours and never more than a mile or two from a trailhead or road at a busy State Park I just feel like I don’t need an emergency shelter or insulation or a fire starting device.

5 Essentials for hiking at Curt Gowdy

But here’s what I do need:

  • A sunhat. A lot of the trails at Curt Gowdy don’t have a lot of shade. So protect that skin and bring your own. Our favorites right now are Outdoor Research sombreros for adults and kids.
  • Sunscreen. Once again, not a lot of shade so you can really fry out there. Sunscreen is a must. Don’t forget to apply it to weird places like on top of your ears, a bald spot or where you part your hair.
  • Water. Hydration is key. We usually try to put down 1 liter every 60-90 minutes when we’re hiking. If you’re hiking with kids make sure they are drinking too. We make a game of it with our kids by yelling “bottoms up” every time we drink. When we’re with a group we make it a goal to never drink alone. If one person stops to drink we encourage everyone else to drink too.


  • Digital trail map. Fortunately, the trails at Curt Gowdy are very well marked with maps and signs at most intersections. But, there are a lot of trails. We get good connectivity with our i-phones at Curt Gowdy and by downloading the (FREE) Avenza pdf map of the area we’re able to track our progress and see how far we are between trail intersections. We just follow the blue dot, so easy. This is important when little legs get tired and you hit that point where you’re trying to decide if it’s faster to finish a loop or turn the hike into an out-and-back.
  • 5 Essentials for hiking at Curt Gowdy (1)Tweezers. Yep, tweezers. There is a ton of cactus at the park and on more than one occasion we’ve been attacked. Usually, this happens when we fall off of a mountain bike into a cactus or when a child falls while hiking or climbing rocks. We’re not fans of digging cactus out of a hand on the side of the trail but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do until you can get home.

Have you explored at Curt Gowdy State Park? What would you add or take away from the list?



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