Stretching 12.5 miles through Vicksburg National Military Park, the Al Scheller Hiking Trail offers visitors a picturesque opportunity to explore the park’s furthest reaches. The trail will lead you through deep woods and rolling fields alike, delivering a valuable glimpse into the unique geography of Mississippi.
Before you embark on your adventure, however, make sure that you’re prepared to weather the demands of such a challenging trail. Visit Vicksburg has compiled a few essential tips to help make the excursion as smooth as possible.
1. Pack plenty of water.
Hiking is a high-intensity activity in virtually any environment, and that means that plenty of water is a must. This becomes even more important in the exceptionally warm climate of the Vicksburg area. It’s generally recommended to drink at least 32 ounces of water every two hours, and the average hiking speed is about 3 miles an hour. That means the Al Scheller Trail will likely take more than four hours to complete, so you should try to pack at least 64 ounces of water per person.
2. Bring a map and compass.
Maps and compasses may seem like outdated technology to the avid smartphone user. Unfortunately, battery life and coverage limitations mean that a smartphone may not be helpful in an emergency. The map-and-compass combination is unaffected by these restrictions, which makes it a must-have for lengthier hikes. It’s also worth noting that the trail was designed as a compass course in the first place. Try combining a compass and area map with the trail map provided by the National Park Service.
3. Avoid the trail altogether when conditions are unsafe.
Some trail emergencies can be prevented by simply ensuring that you avoid the trail when conditions are less than ideal. Because the expansive Vicksburg National Military Park houses a host of steep surfaces and rushing streams, wet weather poses a serious threat. For your planning convenience, contact the park ahead of time to inquire about the current condition of the trail.
4. Don’t hike without a first-aid kit.
Even if you expect optimal conditions, it’s important to be prepared for unexpected trouble. Tree roots, rocks and other obstacles can quickly lead to frustrating trips and falls, and therefore to skinned knees and twisted ankles. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit packed before you head out on the trail, so you’re ready to take care of these issues if they arise.
5. Wear the right clothing and footwear.
Even if the weather is warm, typical summertime clothing won’t make the cut for the Al Scheller Hiking Trail. Your first priority should be to wear closed-toe shoes made of tough materials to weather rougher conditions. You may also want to wear a hat to help block out the sun during more open portions of the trail. Because you’re likely to work up a sweat, moisture-wicking clothing can help you stay comfortable as you hike. And always tell the NPA staff at the Visitor Center that you are about to start your hike.