LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It is the time of year when thousands of Arkansans begin hitting the outdoors, hiking and biking across the Natural State, but officials say more accidents are reported in the spring and summer months than any other time of year.
Park Rangers say they see all kinds of injuries from heat exhaustion and dehydration to sprained ankles and broken bones every summer. They say with just a little time and preparation, many times they could be prevented.
More than a thousand feet above the Arkansas River Valley, Pinnacle Mountain towers over Central Arkansas and every day, hundreds of visitors make their way to it's peak.
"However far you go up, you've got to come back down," says Park Interpretor Courtney Todd.
After a year of construction, the mountain's West Summit Path is back open.
"A lot of the trail has been redone, made a lot safer, a little bit easier in places," says Todd, but climbing two miles is far from effortless.
"Anytime you're doing a trail, especially a fairly strenuous one, take your time. Take plenty of rest breaks. If you ever get to the point where you feel like you may have bit off more than you can chew, stop there," says Todd.
Stopping half way is what Thomas Coolidge and his son Ryan decided to do on their way down.
"Normally, if we're going to go for a long time, we pack a set of warm jackets, rain jackets and we get water if we get thirsty," says Thomas Coolidge.
It is great plan that Todd says not every hiker follows.
"We see a lot of heat related and exhaustion, dehydration, a lot of injuries that if you take your time, plan ahead a little bit, they can easily be prevented," says Todd.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park closes an hour after sunset so if you plan on hitting the trails, be sure to check your watch. Todd says that is also a safety measure. The trails are difficult enough in the daylight, traveling at night can be extremely dangerous.
Also, due to such a mild winter, ticks will be more common this year and so will tick borne illnesses. Todd says to remember a bug spray with deet and sunscreen as well.
Park Rangers also recommend taking a friend along anytime you hit the outdoors and to let someone know where you are going and when you should return in case of an emergency.