Hiking at night on the Southern Tier - how dangerous?

I’ve only hiked at night three times, and it was pretty freakin’ cool (both for the atmosphere and for the lack of blazing heat.) But both of the times I’ve done it were with groups of people – large groups of people (a school group for the first time, the start of hiking long’s peak in colorado at 2 am in the morning for the second time – it’s the most crowded trail I’ve ever been on when you first start off all together at 2 am.)

What I’m worried about is bears. I know there are a lot of bears in the Adirondacks but I don’t know about in the Southern Tier – the Finger Lakes Trail to be specific. I’m thinking about hiking all the way through the night both because it would be neat and I have a hard time sleeping in a tent.

But on the other hand, how dangerous is hiking at night vis a vis camping at nigh t-- after all I haven’t heard of anyone attacked by a bear at night while hiking, whereas people get attacked every year in the US at night by bears while camping. But perhaps that’s because few people are daft enough to hike at night :slight_smile: So does anyone have any stats on that as well?

Very, very few people get attacked by bears in the US. And the vast majority of those are food related (food left in or near tents) which won’t be an issue for you if you’re hiking. If you are hiking, you’re only real concern is surprising a bear or getting between a mother an her cubs. Simply making some noise while hiking will eliminate that problem.

I’d never carry bear bells since I think they are unnecessary in the east and much more noisy than I care to endure in the woods, but if it would make you feel more comfortable it could be the right choice.

I’m with Telemark on this one. People get attacked in the morning…early early morning - bears have terrible sight and do not hunt at night. They may scavenge until the wee hours but they are not hunting…and in the Adirondacks, they are not really attacking anyone. I can’t tell you how many black bear butts I’ve seen running away from me while hiking in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Blackies are very timid.

I can’t comment on bear behavior in the Adirondacks, but your best bet is to directly contact a ranger in the area you are interested in hiking.

2011 seems to have seen quite a few scary bear attacks, interestingly the recent one in Alaska (http://www.adn.com/2011/07/24/1983379/grizzly-sow-attacks-group-of-seven.html) was technically at night even though it was complete daylight (Alaska summer).

Any and all bears can be aggressive if surprised or if you get between their cubs. Also some black bears can have nocturnal habits in some habitats, especially if food sources are more active/available then. So, talk to a ranger.

There are some black bears in the Southern Tier. Friends of mine from high school have problems with a few who rummage through their trash if it’s left out and raid the garden from time to time.

I didn’t know that they didn’t hunt at night, thanks for the info. I do know that the major problems with hiking at night in that area would be getting hit by cars (since the Finger Lakes Trail goes on roads for a couple miles in several places,) and hypothermia if it rains.

I also know that a majorer problem with hiking near (black) bears at night is startling them rather than getting eaten by them, but now that I know that they are in the area, if I do go through with my crazy plan I’ll at least wave a light around while hiking (it’s much easier to hike with no light at night if there’s a full moon, cause with a light on you can only see what’s directly in front of you for a couple feet.)