6 Best Tips to Deal with Snakes on the Trail

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Depending on where you’re hiking, biking, or running, you might run across a snake while you’re out.

These slithering creatures can startle anyone, but you should be careful of what you do next.

It might even depend on what kind of snake it is and the area that you’re in. But we’re here to help. Using the following tips on this list, you should be able to deal with any snake that you stumble upon while you’re out and about.

How to Deal with Snake

Our Top Tips

Know the Area

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to get an understanding of the area that you’re in. Whether it’s the terrain or the type of snakes that are in the area, you should have at least a basic understanding of what to watch out for. This can involve also knowing what the snakes might sound like when you can’t see them. You might be getting close to a rattler snake, but not see him. However, you are likely going to be able to hear the rattler.

This may also mean running without headphones when you’re in an area that you don’t typically run. I’m not saying that you have to completely devoid yourself of running music or biking music, but you might want to have a headphone out of your ear so that you can still hear the world around you.

Protect Your Ankles and Feet

Socks that protect your ankles don’t look great and you might feel gross when you have to peel off those sneakers during the summer months, however, protecting your ankles and feet can mean avoiding a bite and a trip to the hospital. Or at least, you won’t have as deep of a bite to deal with as you would otherwise. This can really help you, so don’t ignore it. Even if you look a little bit ridiculous, you’ll feel a little bit safer.

Watch for Signs

Signs of snake

Literally. In areas where snakes are common, you’ll find signs about it along some trails. They might point out specific spots where snakes cross the trail and they might just be general warnings. When you see one, you should be taking extra care to look out and listen for any snakes. They’ll be just as surprised as you, but you should be able to see them coming if you’re keeping your eyes peeled.

If you’re in a new area and want to head off the trail and into the brush to go get the perfect picture, you’ll want to be extra careful. In fact, it might not be worth going off the trail at all. Snakes can hide in all sorts of places. When they’re out on the trail, you’ll be able to spot them, but when there are brush and rocks and plenty of places for them to hide, you might be closer to a snake than you think. Be careful when you’re out there.

Run when It’s Cool

Snakes are reptiles, which means that they’ll be most active when the day is warmer. By running during cooler hours, then you’ll avoid active snakes. Instead, they’ll be sluggish and possibly uninterested in you or even getting close to the trail that you’re on.

You will find that it’s harder to avoid snakes between late spring and early fall. These are the warmest months, so the snakes will likely be active a lot of the time. During the winter, they’re less likely to be out. However, running during the winter isn’t much fun for people and other outside activities aren’t easy either. So keep an eye on the weather when you head out. If you can avoid the warmest part of the day, then you’ll be better off. However, we know that that’s not always possible, so just keep your eyes open for the snakes on the trail.

Avoid Running at Night

While we’ve told you to run when it’s cooler, we also have to caution you against running in the middle of the night. This may seem to contradict the suggestions we’re giving you, but there’s a good reason why you don’t want to run at night in areas with lots of snakes.

While snakes are less active during the cooler hours, they also have to keep moving to keep their body heat up. This means that some snakes will be awake and moving around during the nighttime. However, humans don’t have great night vision. This means that we won’t be able to see the snakes (and other nocturnal creatures) but they will be able to see us.

If an encounter during the day is already bad enough, then imagine it at night where it can really take you by surprise. So if you’re going to run when it’s dark out, make sure that you’re able to see somehow (with a headband light or the phone flashlight on or some other way of seeing).

Don’t Approach a Snake on the Trail

Snake on the Trail

While this may seem like the biggest no-brainer on the list, it is still worth mentioning. When you are out on a trail for any purpose and you see a snake, you should not get close to it. The closer you are to a snake, the more likely it is to lash out and attack you. This means that you’ll be in more danger the closer you go.

Sometimes getting back to the car to go home means going past a snake. In these instances, you should try to be as calm as possible. You should find a way around the snake that leaves plenty of distance between the two of you. As much as you don’t want to get bit by the snake, the snake doesn’t want to be bothered.

If you show respect to the snake, then it isn’t likely to want to bother you. As far as it is concerned, you (the human) are in its territory and not the other way around. If you’re out on a trail, you also shouldn’t consider killing the snake unless it is posing an immediate threat that you cannot get away from. Snakes are an important part of the ecosystem and although they might scare us sometimes, they do a lot of good.


When you’re out on a trail, seeing a snake is one of the last things you probably want. Even if you like snakes, you probably don’t want to see one in your path. It can mean a lot of trouble for you as well as for the snake. Make sure that you take your time getting around the snake and that you aren’t putting yourself in danger. Even if you’re not running into snakes, don’t put yourself in a position where you might stumble upon one in an area you don’t know well.

These tips will help make sure that you’re safe from the slithering creatures, but you have to keep your eyes open regardless of why you’re on the trail, what time of day it is, or who you’re with. That is the best way to keep yourself safe from getting bit by a spooked snake out on the trail.

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Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of soutdoors.com and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter!

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