There’s arguably no better way to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors like hiking high. Many people enjoy using cannabis when they hit the trails, reporting that the experience can be euphoric.
But where should you go, and what should you bring? Is it legal to use cannabis in a state or national park? What if you experience cannabis-induced paranoia while on the trail?
Before hitting the trail post-toke, these kinds of questions are bound to come to mind. That’s why we sat down to answer a few popular questions about hiking with cannabis. Consider this your trail guide for an “elevated” experience.
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Can you legally bring cannabis to state or national parks in legal states?
More and more states are legalizing cannabis — both for medical and recreational use. But how does that apply to national and state parks?
As noted by the National Park Service, although cannabis (recreational or medical) may be legal in certain states, it is not legal under federal law. Thus, it is illegal to have and use cannabis in any national park since those are protected and operated by the US federal government and not individual states.
For state parks, it depends on (unsurprisingly) state cannabis law.
Adeline Yee, an information officer for California State Parks, previously told GreenState that in California, “persons 21 and older may possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana.” However, it’s illegal to smoke or ingest cannabis products in public places, which includes state parks — meaning you could not legally use cannabis while hiking in a California state park.
As also previously reported by Green State, it’s generally illegal to smoke cannabis in public, even if it’s legal in the state. So using cannabis in a state park is likely not legal on the state level, either.
To play it safe, consume cannabis in your parked car or somewhere else private, legal, and safe before hiking rather than on the trail. Or, consider one of the many cannabis-friendly campgrounds in states where cannabis is legal. These give cannabis lovers an opportunity to enjoy cannabis while exploring the outdoors.
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What to pack for hiking high
You always want to be prepared for whatever may come on the trail. When hiking while high, that means not only bringing necessities for hiking — proper shoes, clothing layers, snacks, water, etc. — it also means bringing the essentials to make the experience as enjoyable as possible and to have a few things on-hand to combat the potential side effects of THC.
Especially if you’re going on a longer hike, you’ll want to bring some snacks for if and when the munchies hit. Bring foods that will keep you energized but that you know you may crave and enjoy. Things like granola bars and a handful of your favorite candy are solid options.
Be sure to also stay hydrated and bring extra water in case you get a dry mouth.
It’s also a good idea to bring something to calm yourself if cannabis-induced anxiety hits — especially if this is a new experience for you. Something like a coloring book and a small pack of crayons or a phone with downloaded music you can listen to offline can help you relax if you experience a panic attack.
Make sure to tell someone you’re going on a hike while high. As you hike, also pay attention to trail markers and have a map and compass handy. Keep a list of park ranger numbers in your phone to use if you get lost.
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Social etiquette tips for using cannabis on the trails
It’s important to be courteous to other hikers — especially when consuming cannabis.
No one wants to hike behind a cloud of smoke while trying to trek up a mountain just because the person in front of them wanted to smoke a joint or vape. And smoking while on the trail is illegal in most parks.
Additionally, multiple wildfires have been started from cigarette butts. Pay attention to local fire risks and avoid smoking in those areas. And if you do smoke, don’t dribble ash on a trail don’t drop your joint on the ground.
If you’re going to consume cannabis while hiking, eat edibles or put a few drops of a cannabis tincture under your tongue.
Also, be sure to clean up after yourself and follow one of the top hiking rules: leave no trace. Don’t throw a roach or edible wrapper on the trail — put it in your pocket or backpack, and dispose of it properly when you’re done with your hike.
This keeps the trail free of trash and enjoyable for other hikers and, most importantly, protects plants and animals from the harmful effects of litter.
Best trails for hiking while high
The experience of being high in nature is euphoric and very calming for many people.
But if you’re planning to get high as a mountain while hiking, it’s best not to try and tackle any difficult trails that require a lot of energy or physical coordination.
However, to get the full experience, you do want to choose those that offer beautiful scenic views.
Hills, lakes, and valleys can all be beautiful places to safely enjoy the view while high.
Trails are typically rated on levels like:
These ratings will vary from trail to trail. You’ll want to lean toward easier trails.
Check out your local park guides, and look at reviews on sites like All Trails. This can give you a better idea of the view, trail difficulty, and other helpful tips as you plan your hiking excursion.
What kinds of cannabis should you bring on a hike?
Depending on where you’re going, how far you’re hiking, and how difficult your trail is, you may want to consume different kinds of cannabis products.
If you want to be discreet when using cannabis on the trail, consider edibles — they’re easy to consume while hiking, and you won’t have to worry about blowing smoke on other hikers in the area.
Also, mind your cannabis strains — Sativa strains are known to be energizing, while Indica strains often trigger a sensation of deep relaxation that could potentially make physical activity difficult.
If you’re doing a particularly strenuous or challenging hike and want something to ease your muscles without the psychoactive effects, consider using CBD as opposed to traditional weed.
Even if you’re an experienced user, it’s important to only use small doses before hiking, to help you avoid losing coordination on the trail or becoming anxious.
If you’re taking a relaxing hike on an easy trail with beautiful scenic views, cannabis may elevate the experience. Just be sure to plan out your trails, be mindful of other hikers and of the environment, and consume responsibly.