Thursday March 11, 2021

By Paul Barach

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Travel

Burning one down while passing through some wilderness has been a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts since the days of dime bags and external frame backpacks. A nice trail toke can loosen up your limbs, get your head in the right place to relax, and is great for feeling that natural vibe. However, heading out into the woods for even a couple of miles takes a little bit of planning. This is especially true if you’re going to be a little altered once you’re out there. Going into a hike prepared means enjoying your time without harshing your experience. 

If you’ve ever been curious to pack some cannabis and see how Mother Nature decorates her house, PotGuide is here with some helpful Dos and Don’ts of hiking while stoned.

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Do: Pick an Uplifting and Energetic Strain.

Whether you’re strolling past a lake or hiking up a mountain, choose an energetic strain. Anything that brightens the colors, lifts your mood, keeps your head up and your feet moving is perfect for a day in the woods. 

Super Lemon Haze nug
Sativa dominant strains, such as Super Lemon Haze, are a perfect match for hiking.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a favorite evening strain that droops your eyelids or a psychedelic one that gets you lost on the way to your kitchen, leave it at home. 

Don’t: Use a Bluetooth Speaker.

Besides scaring away wildlife or drowning out birds, it’s rude to impose your music on another hiker’s experience. If you like vibing to tracks that power you up the slope or make reaching those views extra epic, then a pair of sweat-proof, wireless sports headphones are the best choice. Wired earbuds work as well, but the cords can snag on passing branches.  

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Do: Bring Extra Water

Even if you’re going hiking on a cool day, you’ll be losing more water than you think, especially on uneven ground or higher altitudes like Colorado. Throw some cannabis into the mix and you could run out of water early while quenching your cottonmouth. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, and muscle cramps. Nothing you want to be dealing with on the trail, and especially when stoned.

Whether you’re hiking on a hot day or a damp one, you’ll want to bring an extra liter of water wherever you’re going just in case that dry mouth isn’t going away.

Even if you’re hiking past water sources, you’re still better off carrying extra water that you can trust. No matter how pure that crystal clear alpine lake or ice-cold stream may look, especially when you’re thirsty, don’t drink it unless it’s an emergency. There could be plenty of harmful bacteria or parasites hidden in there that will view your gut as prime real estate to settle down and start a family. If extra water sounds like too much weight, pack a small water filter or some iodine/chlorine tablets. It’s always better to end a hike with a liter extra than having to hike a couple of miles a liter short. 

Don’t: Stock Up On Gas Station

You’re going to be burning at least 300 to 500 calories an hour while hiking, and more if you’re carrying a heavy pack (with extra water) or hiking up to a viewpoint. That’s going to spark up your appetite, and the munchies are only going to stoke that fire higher. 

When you’re looking for energy that’s going to last you the miles, the junk food you may love at home won’t be nearly as good in the forest or mountains. A bag of salty chips is fine as a side snack, but don’t rely on it lasting you the entire hike. The same goes for candy bars, sodas, or fried foods. All that sugar and fat can get you moving, but once that sugar high crashes, it’s gonna be a slog until you get back to your car. 

When the hunger hits, you’ll want a variety of snacks that will give you steady energy throughout any distance. Dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, and granola bars are nutritious and will give you lasting energy on the way up. A piece of fresh fruit like an apple and a hefty sandwich for your main meal will taste even better after toking up at your destination.

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Do: Bring Extra Layers

Temperatures can change quickly in the mountains, especially at higher altitudes. If a cold front moves in, sweating can turn to shivering quickly, and vice versa. Smoking weed can sometimes make you too hot or in most cases a little cold, which can ruin your time or put you in danger at lower temperatures. Don’t rely on the weather you started the hike to be the weather when you get back.   

Hiking boots, jacket, and a backpack
It's always better to be safe, rather than sorry when it comes to packing layers. photo credit

Even on a hot day, pack a waterproof outer layer and a lightweight, poly-fabric underlayer. That way you’re prepared if the temperature drops or that deep rip you took in the shade makes you a little chilly. Stay away from cotton, wool, denim, or any fabric that doesn’t dry quickly or wick away sweat. At best, you’ll be damp and chafed. At worst, you’ll be rain-soaked and shivering the entire hike.  

Don’t: Toss Your Roach or Bowl in the Woods

Stepping off-trail for a nice bowl on a fallen log or a smooth rock is great. On the other hand, there’s something that feels so natural about pulling out a joint, sparking up, and continuing on your way. Whichever method you go with, if you’re lighting something on fire, be sure to snuff it out when you’re done. Forests have been getting warmer and dryer in recent years, and infestations from invasive bugs like pine beetles are just adding more tinder.

A vape pen in nature
Vaping is the safest option to avoid forest fires.

If your bowl is cashed, tap it into your hand to check the heat, then rub it into the dirt when you’re sure it’s out. If you’ve got a joint, stub it out into a tin or other small ashtray and carry it with you. If you have vape options, the less fire, the better. Also, be sure to check regulations where you’re hiking to make sure you aren’t running afoul of local or federal laws. 

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Do: Stay Found

Hiking while stoned is meant to be a relaxing time reconnecting with nature. However, part of that means freeing your mind to wander, which can get you off-trail. Feeling lost in the woods can be anxious enough without piling on being stoned. That’s why hiking with friends is always safer than solo (and that goes for stoned or not). Whether in a group or alone, at least take a photo of the map display at the trailhead before you start out, but it’s best to bring a map and compass with you. Downloading a GPS app like AllTrails to keep tabs on your location is an even better option. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.  

Do: Pick the Right Spot to Smoke.

Since you brought the weed with you for a reason, you’ll want to pick the right smoke spot to partake. If you’re taking a toke break, find a secluded spot off-trail. Wherever you are, try to stay downwind of any passing hikers. Not everyone enjoys the smell of cannabis as much as you do, and parents may not want to answer their kid's questions about what you’re doing. 

Someone smoking a blunt in a cool smoke spot
The key to smoking on a hike is finding a beautiful smoke spot.

Once you’re at your destination, whether it’s by a roaring creek, a peaceful lake, or a mountain peak, make sure you’ve got a comfortable spot on a log, a rock, or leaned against your pack before you take a hit. Then simply rest up and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. 

The Wrap Up

Hiking with cannabis is some of the best times you can have in the outdoors. Before heading out, be sure to pick the right strain, pack plenty of water and food, bring extra layers, and know where the trail goes. Once you’re all prepared, enjoy visiting with Mother Nature.


What are your experiences with hiking and cannabis? Share them in the comments below!


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.



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