7 Expert Safety Tips for Trail Runners

There’s something about a trail run that feels freeing and magical—trees dotting the landscape, birds singing above you, and if you’re lucky, sunshine streaming across the trail. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty and enjoyment of it all and forget about safety.

When running in the woods, alone or with someone else, there are a number of safety precautions every runner needs to take. To help you stay safe, we turned to running professionals, security experts and trail running fanatics for the most important pro tips.

Check the Weather

“I run in the Black Hills National Forest and we have the world record for the fastest record weather change of almost 50 degrees within just a few minutes. But even on a normal day rain, hail, wind, etc. can pop up on a seemingly calm afternoon. Be prepared with knowledge of the forecast and with gear.”

Kyle Kranz, Ultra-Marathoner and Ironman Finisher

Make Yourself Visible

For trail running, reflective shoes or a neon pullover helps others see you and visa versa. This especially applies to areas where there’s hunting as well, as many states require by law a piece of bright orange clothing to alert other hunters nearby.”

Bryan Koontz, CEO of Guidefitter

Invest in Pepper Spray

“Carry pepper spray in your hand to keep it at the ready. Most pepper spray weighs 2 ounces or less which makes it ideal to have clipped to your running gear or held in your hand. There’s even specific ‘jogger pepper spray’ that has a built in sling that makes securing to your hand simple.”

David Artman, CEO of The Home Security Super Store

Share Your Location

“I’m known to go out hiking by myself. I usually will text a map with a general plan of my route to a friend before I go and follow up afterward when I’m done. You can also share your location with a friend via your phone or Garmin LiveTrack. I’d suggest having a few options, as cell reception may not be always accurate.”

Kate Hamm, Fitness Professional and Owner of AnamBliss


Find or Create Landmarks

“Make note of landmarks or create them yourself if you are running an out and back. I will often stack rocks to indicate which way I should return in case my GPS watch mapping feature fails.”

Vanessa Kline, Head Of Pacing Programs for RAM Racing

Stay Alert—Especially When You’re Tired

“It’s easy to get sloppy towards the end of a run. Your form goes, then your mind, and before you know it, you don’t even remember the last mile of trail. Stay alert and pay attention to the trail at all times.”

Doug Hay, Founder of Rock Creek Runner

Follow The Rules

“When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.”

– “RRCA General Running Safety Tips,” Road Runners Club of America

Remember these tips before you head out on your next trail run, whether you carry a can of pepper spray or leave your headphones at home. With safety at the front of your mind, you can enjoy a challenging workout without worrying about how you’ll handle a potentially dangerous situation.