View Full Version : Snakes: Problem or not

01-21-2004, 20:53
Just wondering if snakes (posionous) are a problem on the trail? I'll be using a floorless tent. I would like to hear from the group what their experience is. And what gear do you use while on the trail for protection from snake attacks?


P.S. I'm only using this because I think this is cool! :dance

B Thrash
01-21-2004, 21:03
Just wondering if snakes (posionous) are a problem on the trail? I'll be using a floorless tent. I would like to hear from the group what their experience is. And what gear do you use while on the trail for protection from snake attacks?


P.S. I'm only using this because I think this is cool! :dance

Sakkit: Go to Whiteblaze archives, look under wildlife, rattlesnakes, you will find a number of entries for your subject.


01-21-2004, 21:03
having the "devil" and talking about snakes in the same post is NOT a coincidence...and no snakes are not a problem.. I use a tarp and have for years..no snake problem yet...but I do have a little devilish problem occasionally..but it has NOTHING to do with the floorless tent! :datz

Rain Man
01-21-2004, 22:24
Just wondering if snakes (posionous) are a problem on the trail?

I've never known of nor even read of a single snake bite on the AT (not counting one nosey dog that wasn't hurt by the bite).

The fear of snakes is irrational. :)

However, I'd like to know about hikers with tarps getting eaten up by ticks, gnats, skeeters, and bugs! Some REAL problems in my book. :)

Rain Man


Lone Wolf
01-21-2004, 22:44
Snakes aren't a concern. Worry more about murder, assaults and rape. They happen more than snake bites. Or bear attacks. Or lightning stikes. Or...

01-21-2004, 23:41
...which is not to say violent crimes are common on the AT, though indeed they have occurred.

steve hiker
01-21-2004, 23:56
The trail can be a real snakepit at times. Especially after them northbounders form cliques. Usually happens by Damascus.

Yes, some real snakes on the trail.:dance

01-22-2004, 13:52
You may encounter snakes on the Trail, especially on sun-baked ledges and sometimes on or next to the trail bed itself. That said, I've never seen anything besides a few garter snakes in 30 years of hiking. Watch where you step and don't put your hand in any dark holes and you should be fine.

01-22-2004, 14:57
Perhaps a little bit dated, but from Mountaineering First Aid, fourth edition, 1996, page 105:

From 1990 to 1992, 12,133 snake bites were reported in the United States, but ownly two deaths were attributed to a snake bite. In at least 22% of bites from poisonous snakes, no venom is injected.

Point being that I think the danger of snake bites is rather exaggerated by the media, especially the danger of death due to such.

01-22-2004, 15:32
In 1995 I knew one hiker who was bitten by a Copperhead while tramping through tall grass. She stepped right on it. Outpatient care at the ER and 3 or 4 days of rest in town and she was back out on the trail.

I ran into maybe a grand total of 6 venomous snakes on the AT in 1995, 4 of them within about 50 feet of one another on an open ledge north of the Earl Shaffer shelter in PA. They were all stretched out on the rocks taking in some heat. Unfortunately they were on a ledge about 2-3 feet away from the trailbed and that ledge happened to be about shoulder height. So when my hiking partner and I walked on by, they got a might bit upset and started their tail buzzing. There were three of them right there along the trail within striking range. The fourth was on the trail where it re-entered the trees. That was frightening.

The first venomous snake I saw on the AT was about a mile before the O'Lystery Community Pavilion. The next snake I saw was a copperhead on the trail maybe a week or so north of Damascus. You'll see more rattlesnakes in PA than in any other state along the AT, mainly because of when you pass through.

Snakes are far less of a problem than ticks. My real problem is spiders. I saw one too many brown recluse in a privy and eventually gave privies up in favor of catholes in the woods (at least until I got to Vermont where the venomous spiders are few and very far between). You think a snakebite is bad. That said, this is more a personal phobia than an objective reason for concern. I've never even heard of someone getting recluse bit on the AT. Spiders REALLY get to me. THe only ones I don't have a problem with are those cute little jumping spiders, they are neat.

Brushy Sage
01-22-2004, 17:31
I have seen numerous blacksnakes and garter snakes, and one rattlesnake (it moved off the trail and watched as I passed by). A female hiker was bitten by a brown recluse spider in 2002. She got medical attention, dressed the wound daily, and kept hiking.

01-23-2004, 22:58
I have been hiking since 1974 and snakes have never been one of items that have caused me any problems. I have noticed an increase in rattlesnakes in Georgia during the past 2 years. I have seen 9 in the past 2 years. They seemed to increase due to the critters increasing after the severe drought that hit the south for 3 years. This past summer there was an increase in snake bites in Georgia over the pase few years. No deaths. Just watch where you step. They have no desire to bother you.

01-23-2004, 23:05
I got bit by a rattler in 2000 doing the Mar-Har trail, luckily it didn't inject me too much. I did spent the night in the Hospital in Staunton though. So Rain Man, now you can say you have heard of someone getting bit on the AT (via a blue blaze). It was only about 30 feet off the AT so actually maybe it wasn't the AT. :bse

01-24-2004, 00:35
I live in Illinois. To be honest, until recently, I never knew poisonous snakes lived in Virginia. I backpacked in Shenandoah National Park and didn't pay any attention to where I stepped. We camped off trail and routinely walked through the long grass and brush to get to the tents. I even saw a couple of snakes cross the trail. I didn't even think to look closer since I just assumed they were harmless. Maybe I was just lucky, because I guess there are plenty of rattlesnakes in the area.

01-24-2004, 11:21
I never thought about spiders in privies. Then a month ago one bit me in a privy on Angel Island. It turned out to be a normal run of the mill (or should I say privy) spider so all I got was a large painful red welt that turned really itchy after a few days.

01-24-2004, 11:54
Like Kerosene me too with 30+ years on the trail and only 3 snakes, non poisonouse, one beautiful huge blacksnake sunning on a roof in the Highlands...so relax about snakes, now mice and Hanta, fleas and plague, moskies and west nile..........

01-24-2004, 14:48
Snakes eat mice! give me MORE snakes!

they're all part of the food chain.

i've been section hiking the (A.T.) for 3 years...have seen several snakes....one copperhead, one blacksnake & one timber rattler.

i noticed them...they noticed me....we both went our seperate ways! :D

i stepped on a rattlesnake when i was climbing up a hill in Red Rock country near Sedona AZ a few years back....he let me know he didnt appreciate the intrusion....OUCH!

see ya'll UP the trail (snakes or not) in 2004!

Annie Cole
01-24-2004, 15:43
There's many snakes out there. But the animal kind can be tamed if you have the right mind. For instance if you get bit forget about it till you reach the next town. But if you you chose to freak out you will become i'll. It's a religion thing, but its true and proves a point. ITS all in your head. Just like the first bong you pulled made you feel gay. :cool:

01-24-2004, 17:01
I doubt you'd make it from one end of the AT to the other without seeing at least one venemous snake. Where I found them to be the most pesky was the rocky sections up in PA. The snakes tend to sun themselves and sometimes you don't see them until you're right on top of them. If you want to see a nice sampling of snakes check out the pics I uploaded at Trailjournals.com. I'd upload them here but the pics are too large and I didn't feel like down-sizing them.

Are they a problem ??? I guess if you're snakaphobic they could be but otherwise they're just one more wonder of nature you'll experience during your hike. Give them a little distance, treat them with respect and you'll come away unscathed.