SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The sunny fall weather has many people in Southern Illinois heading outdoors for a hike in the woods.
And one of the most popular hiking spots in the area is at Little Grand Canyon in Jackson County, Illinois.
But, Master Sergeant Tony Rendleman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says you need to prepare yourself before you get out on the trail.
"You want to make sure you have plenty of water. And the proper shoes," said Rendleman.
"And you need to have a map of the area where you're going to go hiking. A compass or GPS device along with a cell phone can help you get out of the woods safely is something unexpected does happen."
And this time of year can pose some other obstacles and hazards along the way as you stroll through the woods.
"Of course this time of year there's always the possibility of snake migration. So you have to be aware of those types of things," said Terry Owens of Carbondale.
"And if it's slopped you have to worry about slipping and falling when it's wet."
Which is why IDNR officers say you need to know where you're hiking and the terrain.
"I was worried a few times because didn't know for sure if we were on the trail or not," said Kara Laiser of Madison, Wisconsin.
"You need to know where you are and we didn't have a map. We were just trying to follow where we thought the trail was, at times you couldn't tell."
And it's the unknown or unexpected things that can happen when hiking that IDNR officers say you need to plan for before hand.
"The rule of thumb is always give yourself an extra 30-to-45 minutes of daylight time to get off the trail and out of the woods before it gets dark," said Rendleman.
"And you always want to tell someone where you're going and when you plan on returning so they can call for help if you're unable too."