How to Find a Lost Hiker

A lost hiker should be found as soon as possible. You must know these tips for tracking a person in the wilderness. If not, the lost person faces an increased risk of harm. Local and national authorities search for thousands of missing people every year. There are many dangers around and finding them as quickly as possible is the first priority.

When a person you know goes missing in the wilderness, there are strategies to follow to make sure you stay on their trail and locate them quickly.

What to Look for When Tracking a Lost Hiker 
There are a few things to keep watch for when tracking a human in the wilderness. Signs are everywhere if you can train your eye to look for them. There are a number of ways to tell if a person was recently in the area.

  • Torn clothing can be a giveaway. If a person is struggling or hiking quickly, they might leave clothing behind or get it snagged on tree branches.
  • Small pieces of trash and food wrappers are signs that a person recently rested or made camp in the area. Most people just out exploring don’t leave garbage, but a person who is desperate won’t worry about littering.

How to Find A Hiker’s Footprints and Tracks
Footprints aren’t always easy to see due to the variety of surfaces in the wilderness. A hiker’s footprints will also change depending on the surface and weather.

  • Look for small impressions on beds of small plants or moss.
  • When going uphill, toes dig into the soil for traction. On a downhill, people’s heels tend to land first and make impressions.
  • Is the lost hiker a tall person or short? This changes the distance in stride and where the next print is likely to be found.
  • Watch for changes in surfaces. For example, sand and snow will stick to boots and will transfer onto pavement.

When You Look for a Lost Hiker, Form a Team for the Best Results
The best way to track down a person is by forming a search team. More eyes are always better than just two.

  • One person should work as the point person and two others should stay behind as the search takes place. Those in the back should not be directly behind, but should be at the right or left rear of the point searcher.
  • A search team can also have roles so that each person is dedicated to a certain aspect. One can keep eyes trained on the ground while the other scans low-lying trees and shrubs for signs.

Every year, thousands of hikers go missing in the wilderness. It doesn’t take much to get turned around among the trees and trails. If panic and danger is added in the results can be disastrous. Timing is the key to finding a lost person. Follow these steps and work quickly for the best results.