How Full Moon Hikes Heighten Your Connection to…Everything

How Full Moon Hikes Heighten Your Connection to…Everything

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A different world awaits you beneath the full Moon. Even the most familiar hiking trail can seem mysterious when illuminated at night. With diminished visibility, your senses become heightened and attuned to the subtle sounds and sights of the nocturnal world.

Full Moon hikes make for a more aware, contemplative, and present-moment experience, one in which your time spent traversing darkness becomes a different sort of meditation. “There is something special about seeing your shadow in front of you on the trail in the middle of the night,” explains Sydney Williams, founder of Hiking My Feelings, a company that leads wilderness wellness programs that feature full Moon hikes. Her nighttime adventures help her fall even more in love with her usual trails. “Every branch looks like an antler,” says Williams.

Aside from the transcendent vibes, there are practical advantages of full Moon hikes. A night hike delivers a less trafficked trail that you can experience in relative quiet. And when daytime temperatures make hiking unbearable or unsafe, night hikes offer cooler temperatures. There may also be night-blooming flowers and nocturnal critters in your area that you’ve never before experienced.

Astrologically, the Moon is associated with your emotions, intuition, and subconscious. When the Moon is full, it is believed to amplify access to your inner world regardless of your sign. This lunar influence can facilitate connection to your inner self as well as your outer world, allowing you to experience the magic of nature in an entirely different way.

Guided Full Moon Hikes

If exploring the relative darkness of a night hike seems intimidating, let someone else handle the logistics. Full Moon hikes are offered by many local and state parks, providing ample opportunities for enthusiasts to experience the magic of moonlit nature. Whether in urban or rural settings, these hikes offer a diverse range of locations for individuals to explore under the luminosity of the Moon. Note that many guided full Moon hikes tend to be more of a walk in the park than an actual hike.

Search online and you’ll find no shortage of led full Moon hikes. Also, the camping supply chain store REI offers guided full Moon hikes on both the East and West coasts. In Massachusetts, AdventureEast leads hikes through Mount Holyoke State Park, Peaked Mountain, and Notchview Nature Preserve.

Out West, volunteers at Irvine Ranch will lead you on a guided Moon hike along the rolling hills of coastal sage in Bommer Canyon, Southern California.

For National Park lovers, Bryce Canyon National Park offers tickets to its full Moon hikes via a monthly in-person lottery at the Visitor Center.

A number of organizations and teachers also pair moonlit hikes with yoga and meditation practices.

DIY Full Moon Hikes

If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, create your own full Moon hiking itinerary. National Parks are a terrific place to try your hand at moonlit hiking, as many parks are open late into the evening and have expertly marked trails. Consider seeking locations that are certified International Dark Sky Places, which have very little light pollution to make star peeping even easier.

For a truly transcendent experience, the Grand Canyon is an incredible location for full Moon hikes. As the moonlight reflects off the vast canyon walls, it illuminates the park in an otherworldly light.

Of course, any established trail near you will do. Just remember that trails with dense tree coverage will likely not be illuminated as well. Choose a distance and difficulty that suits you, confirm the hours you can access the trail and parking lot, and keep safety in mind.

How to Ensure Transcendent Full Moon Hikes

By approaching your night hike with some forethought, you can help ensure your full Moon hike is memorable for reasons other than unintended drama.

1. Do Not Hike Alone

If it’s your first time doing a night hike, consider signing up for a group outing. If you choose to orchestrate one on your own, do not go it alone. No matter how many people are in your party, let someone else know your route and your estimated return time.

2. Stick with the Familiar

Williams suggests hiking a trail you’ve done previously. “Everything looks different at night. Even if you’re hiking in before sunset, you want to minimize as many new variables as possible,” she says. “Hiking at night is new enough.”

3. Check the Weather Forecast

Primarily, you don’t want to encounter rain or freezing temperatures. You also want the night to be clear, as an overcast evening can quickly hide the Moon. Note the low temperatures; you may experience significant drops following sundown, especially in desert locations.

4. Bring Extra Lighting

It would be marvelous if the Moon could perfectly illuminate your every step. That could easily happen if you’re somewhere with little to no tree coverage. But always pack a headlamp or flashlight. If you’re hiking in woody areas or the forecast includes a chance of clouds, pack an extra light.

5. Research Wildlife Safety

Wildlife are active at night. Research what you could potentially experience and learn the behaviors that experts recommend you engage in should you have a chance encounter. For example, rattlesnakes tend to be most active from late afternoon through evening.

6. Plan in Advance

Technically, the full Moon occurs at an exact moment in time. But you could also hike within a couple days before or after the full Moon when it is still powerfully waxing or beginning to wane for an equally illuminated night hike. Take a peek at this year’s full Moon dates.

7. Catch the Moonrise

Experienced full Moon hikers attest that the most breathtaking moment of the evening is the moonrise. The Moon often appears most massive when it is closest to the horizon, which is a rather compelling illusion. Do a quick online search for the moon rise and hike out during dusk, preferably to a peak or clearing of some sort, where you will have an unobstructed vantage. You can trek back by moonlight. (Note: During other phases of the Moon, it doesn’t always rise at dusk.)

8. Let Yourself Be Surprised

When you remain curious, each step becomes a journey of discovery, each sound a whispered secret of the night. As you delve into the wilderness, you may surprise yourself and embrace the primal call of the wild. “Howling at the moon isn’t corny,” says Williams. “It’s a rite of passage.”

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