A loyal reader sent in this note:

PS> Thought it might be interesting to ask a question of your readers…is it safe for women to hike alone? If so, what are their recommendations for safety? I was going to go on a great hike at Lake Sonoma by myself, but there were no cars in the lot at the trailhead and I suddenly felt like I was going to be a headline “Hiker found in pieces along trail”.

Seemed like a good question. And one that I am absolutely not qualified to answer. But I do know several females who are veteran hikers so I asked them to weigh in. Here’s a sampling of responses. Feel free to add your own insight in the comments section below.

HIKER #1

I think the broad question is relative. Level of risk depends on many things, such as how busy the trail is, known presence of wildlife in the area, fitness of participant, state of mind of the participant, weather conditions, and even time of day. That being said, if one was to take a chance and go alone, (as I’ve done a thousand times), I would recommend the following:

ALWAYS leave word, in writing if possible, with a friend, neighbor or family member stating your trail choice and expected time of return. I also state a time by which I’d like the authorities called if I’m not back or haven’t call.

Take a cell phone, wear good ankle supporting hiking boots, take more water than you think necessary, an ace bandage, dental floss (good little rope), signal mirror, headlamp, whistle, and MACE. I carry a tiny canister of MACE in my hand. It’s the only way it will be of benefit . MACE works on all animals, four legged and two.

Don’t be too quiet, and try to maintain situational awareness at all times. (Look up, look around, listen).

Build in extra time in case you get lost or injured.

HIKER #2

I hike alone all the time. In fact I enjoy it.

I carry a cell which is no guarantee but it’s something.

When alone I try to stay on known trails although last weekend I got lost by myself with map and no flashlight

HIKER #3

I think it is safe as long as you are smart about it.

Always tell someone where you are going, carry a cell phone, be aware of your surrounding, trust your instinct and hike in good weather.