Here’s the First Thing You Should Do if You Become Lost On a Hiking Trip

Here’s the First Thing You Should Do if You Become Lost On a Hiking Trip
Here’s the First Thing You Should Do if You Become Lost On a Hiking Trip

While on a hiking trip, you realize you’re lost. The first thing you should do is?

• S.T.O.P.
• Call 911
• Situation awareness
• Build a shelter

Answer: S.T.O.P.

If you realize you become lost during a hiking trip, the first thing you should do is S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan). Here’s why…

The best defense in any survival situation is being prepared and having a contingency plan for anything that may happen. In the military, we call this operational risk management and it has helped mitigate injuries and loss of life.


The term operational risk management (ORM) is a process which includes risk assessment, risk decision making, and implementation of risk controls, which results in acceptance, mitigation, or avoidance of risk.

Our advice is to prepare for the unknown even if your hiking trip is only for a couple of hours. It’s easy to become lost while hiking. Even a weather change can cause disorientation and change your entire trip.

If you get lost, it’s important to stay calm and not panic. Here are some actionable tips and steps you can take if you become lost while hiking:

Stop – If you realize you’re lost, it’s important to stop and not walk any further. Now is not the time to panic but start implementing your survival plan. Conduct a quick assessment of your supplies and gear and do a quick health and comfort self analysis (check for injuries, cuts, anything).


Think – Recall your path and how you got to where you currently stand. Try to remember any landmarks from where you started. Don’t stray from where you are. It’s important to stay put while trying to recall how you got there.

Observe – Are you on a trail? Is there anything you can hear? Have you seen any other people and if so, how long ago and in what direction? Do you see any bodies of water like streams, ponds, or lakes? All of these observations can potentially help you recall certain things as well as help you assess your next move.

Plan – Based on everything you know, it’s time to plan your next move and make a decision on how to get out of this situation. Consider the time of day. If it’s getting closer to nighttime, you may want to stay put.

This is why it’s important to have a plan and prepare before going out and exploring the world. You’re ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being. Don’t go anywhere without a plan. It can save your life.


~To Your Survival!