Spring Hiking Guide: Rain, Wildflowers, Mosquitoes & More

This blog is published in partnership with REI
Wildflower Bloom During Spring Hiking

‘Tis the season for more sunshine and time spent outside. It’s also the season for more mud and mosquitoes. But that shouldn't hold you back from continuing your 52 Hike Challenge.

In this Spring Hiking Guide, we’ll equip you with all the tips, tools and resources you need for hiking during this season of greener grass and blooming wildflowers.

From gearing up for the rain to repelling pesty insects and enjoying wildflower blooms responsibly, we’ve got you covered.

This information will be helpful for you to enjoy your 52 hikes journey throughout the Spring season.

Get ready to learn about rain gear, wildflower etiquette, mosquito deterrents and more!

Rain Gear & Clothing for Spring Hiking

REI Rain Jacket for Spring Hiking

The rain never bothered you anyway, right? Well, it won’t when you have the proper gear!

Plus, more rain means greener grass, vibrant wildflowers and flowing waterfalls! Just like you need enough water to stay hydrated on the trail, Mother Nature needs rain to bring you all the most beautiful parts of the outdoors.

So, celebrate the rain and get out there even if it sprinkles – as long as it’s safe to do so.

Wondering what to wear for your wetter hiking adventures?

Here’s what we recommend wearing while hiking in springtime:

Spring Hiking Clothing Tips

  • Wear hiking boots or shoes with good traction. Your hiking footwear depends largely on the trail conditions you’re hiking in. If the trail has puddles or mud, you might want to opt for a waterproof mid hiking boot. If the trail is dry and the sun is shining, a lightweight trail runner will keep your feet well ventilated. Either way, you want to look for footwear with good tread so you have traction in any condition.
  • Layer with moisture wicking & quick dry base layers. Make sure that the layer closest to your skin will wick sweat and dry quickly. As a rule of thumb, avoid cotton as it retains moisture and will cause you to lose insulation. With quick dry base layers, you’re more likely to stay warm and dry – even if it’s raining.
  • Carry a rain jacket and wear water-resistant pants. We always suggest you carry rain gear like a rain jacket for protection and it serves as a great shell layer too! We love water-resistant / soft shell pants because they repel water and are typically wind resistant too. Water repellent pants will ensure you don’t get soaked if a raincloud comes out.
  • Dress your feet in Merino Wool socks. Similar to your base layer, you’ll want to avoid cotton socks. If your feet sweat or get wet from rain, it will be beneficial to wear a hiking sock that dries quickly. Merino Wool is a natural fiber that keeps your feet warm and dry even in wet conditions.
  • Protect your head with a waterproof hat. The best way to keep your hair and face dry is with a waterproof hat
  • Trek through puddles with gaiters. This piece of gear secures over your hiking footwear, helping prevent water from entering your boot or shoe.

Spring Hiking Gear

Spring Hiking Gear Tips

  • Protect your hiking pack with a rain cover. Make sure all the contents of your backpack stay dry. Lots of outdoor brands make lightweight rain covers for day packs, and many backpacking packs come with a rain cover.
  • Bring a lightweight dry bag or trash bags. Add an extra layer of protection by placing your valuables in a dry bag. You can store it inside your pack or clip it to the outside. Either way, your phone, keys, wallet and GPS device are sure to stay dry. 
  • Use a waterproof case. If you’re like us and love to take pictures while hiking, place your phone or camera in a waterproof case so you can continue the adventure even if it rains. 
  • Always carry the Ten Essentials. Rain or shine, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Ten Essentials and carry them on all of your hikes.

Pro Tips for Hiking in Rainy Weather

  • Keep a dry set out clothes in your car in case you get wet while hiking.
  • Always check and make sure there are no severe weather warnings before you set out.
  • Look up trail conditions to make sure the trail isn’t closed due to flooding.
  • Know how to navigate the clouds and what to do in case of sudden weather changes like lightning
  • Carry a large trash bag to line the inside of your backpack in case of rain and it can act as an emergency shelter or poncho. 

We love REI for their durable waterproof products. Click here to shop now.

Now that you know what to wear and have all the gear for hiking in the rain, it’s time to move onto another obstacle you might encounter in the springtime: mosquitoes.

April Showers Bring May Mosquitoes

Don’t let pests hold you back from accomplishing your 52 Hike Challenge. You can still enjoy the trails even if you have to share them with mosquitoes. Here’s how:

How to Repel Mosquitoes While Hiking

  • Cover up in breathable clothing. With the hiking clothing and gear mentioned above, you won’t have much skin exposed. If the weather is warm, wear a lightweight sun shirt and convertible pants. This will lessen the likelihood of getting a mosquito bite while remaining comfortable on the trail.
  • Treat your clothes and gear with Permethrin. Before you set out on your hike, bring your clothes outside and spray them with Permethrin. Allow at least 2 hours to dry before wearing. This insect repellent not only kills mosquitoes, but it also wards off ticks, chiggers and mites.
  • Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent. Be sure to layer insect repellent over sunscreen to combat sunburn and insect bites. We use Sawyer Picardin because it’s DEET-free and doesn’t smell like chemicals. Plus, it’s just as effective.
  • Avoid hiking at dusk and dawn. Mosquitoes love moist conditions during the hours of sunrise and sunset. If you’re hiking a particularly wet trail, consider hiking during mid-day to avoid excessive mosquito encounters.

Gear Rec: We have been treating our clothing with Sawyer Permethrin for years, and we love its power against mosquitoes & ticks. One single treatment can last on clothing for up to 6 weeks! Get yours at REI.

Now that you’re well equipped against everyone’s least favorite hiking companion, let’s talk about a top reason why you’ll love getting outside during springtime!

April Showers Also Bring…

Spring Wildflowers - Hiking in Montana

You guessed it: May wildflowers!

Wildflowers are abundant in springtime, making April, May & June some really beautiful months to get outside and enjoy nature.

Depending on where you live, you might start to see wildflowers in March, or they might not start their show until June. Either way, they promise a stunning display of color sprinkled across the mountains.

So, you want to see a wildflower bloom this Spring?

Below you’ll find tips for how to find a bloom near you and why wildflower etiquette is so important.

How to Find a Wildflower Bloom Near You

Sunflower Super Bloom

Wildflower blooms are fleeting, and it’s difficult to predict when they’ll arise. The best way to tell if it will be a good year for wildflowers is by monitoring spring rainfall.

If you’ve been seeing pictures of super blooms in your area on social media, odds are you have a good chance of finding one. Here's how:

How to See a Super Bloom

  • Check the location tag or caption content of a super bloom social post
  • Look on the AllTrails app for photos of wildflowers at nearby trails
  • Google search wildflower super blooms near you
  • Ask a park ranger at your local parks

We hope you luck out and get to see the poppies, lupine and sunflowers this spring season!

Now that you know how to find them, let’s cover how to respect them.

Bloom Responsibly: The Importance of Wildflower Etiquette

Leave No Trace - Wildflower Etiquette

Did you know April is Native Plant Appreciation Month?

Show your respect for wildflowers by recreating responsibly. We know it’s tempting to get that perfect picture for the ‘gram, but you shouldn’t doom the bloom for your grid.

Wildflowers are a delicate part of the ecosystem, and they should be treated as such.

Bloom responsibly – here are some important tips to follow while enjoying the springtime flowers:

  • Stay on well-marked trails. Tread lightly and stay on the trail. When you venture off-trial and compact the soil, this prevents wildflowers from blooming in these areas in the future.
  • Don’t trample flowers. Each and every wildflower is important to the bloom’s health and longevity. Stay on-trail and keep the flowers beautiful for future visitors to enjoy.
  • Do not pick the flowers. Wildflowers don’t last long once picked. Plus, this intervention will stop them from going to seed, which could negatively impact future blooms. 
  • Take only pictures. Practice Leave No Trace by leaving what you find. Similarly, be sure to pack out any trash and leave the trail just as you found it.
  • Follow park rules. Listen to your local park rangers and volunteers. Respect trail signage knowing that these rules are in place to protect the sensitive habitat.

Thank you for being a steward of the land and joining us in our mission to keep nature wild!

Take a Hike in Every Season

Take the 52 Hike Challenge

Congratulations! Now nothing can stop you from enjoying all that spring hiking has to offer. We have no doubt you will love getting out there.

In fact, we’re confident you’ll love opting outside so much that you’ll never want to stop – and you don’t have to!

We challenge you to join us for a year of hiking adventures!

Take the 52 Hike Challenge and embark on a hiking journey through all the seasons. 

Whether you live near the lush mountains of the Pacific Northwest, you’re landlocked in a metropolis, or your trails are flat and tropical, you can join the 52 Hike Challenge from anywhere anytime!

The goal is simple yet transformational:

Take a hike once a week for a year. That’s 52 hikes to be exact. You can start the challenge anytime and end early, if you like.

Just imagine all the beauty you’ll see, the new experiences you’ll have, and the memories you’ll make.

Are you ready to transform your life — one step at a time?

Sign up for the 52 Hike Challenge today!

The 52 Hike Challenge is powered by our amazing sponsors like REI.

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