Hiking Tips: Find a Hiking Trail

Elvis Elvis

Finding a hiking trail can be accomplished one of three ways. First, you could just wing it and let the cards fall where they may. I actually tried this when I was younger (and didn’t know any better! ) I spent the better half of five hours bushwacking up the side of Mount Liberty in the White mountains.

Well, let’s just say that by the time I came across an actual hiking trail I was exhausted and torn to shreds! I don’t recommend this method for obvious reasons!

Second method is by using a guidebook. I have used a couple different guidebooks for hiking in New England and they are a tremendous aid in planning a trip.

A good guidebook will give you amazingly detailed hiking trail descriptions. They also provide information regarding the difficulty level and potential problems you might encounter on the trail if you come across inclement weather or wintery situations. I was glad to have had, and read, the trail description on one particular hike I made a few years back. It was entering into the hotter summer months and the guide mentioned that in warmer weather there might be some concern regarding the availability of water on my selected route.

Well, I took precaution and brought an extra water bottle. The guidebook really came through in that situation because for more than three quarters of that hike the existing water supplies were dried up.

The third way of finding a hiking trail would be the use of Trailfinder software. I tried the program and overall, am very pleased with it. I personally like having a guidebook to refer to on my hike and in the planning phases but have found that combined the two methods was actually more beneficial.

Hiking Tips: Find a Hiking Trail

The Trailfinder program gives you access to over 1000 different guidebooks and 30,000 trails to choose from. A couple other things I liked about the Trailfinder program was that it included additional outdoor activities like biking and paddling (plus others). I love being outside and having a database to help me select new places to go based on the activity I want to do is pretty cool. The other option Trailfinder gives you is unlimited access to printable topographic maps. I don’t always use topo’s but they can be helpful in planning an excursion.

A nice safety feature of having the combo of Trailfinder and guidebook is that in planning your hike you can print out a detailed map of your route and highlight it with a marker. You could then leave this map with a friend or family member with the time you expect to be returning. If you were to encounter some trouble on the trail, (I hope and pray you never need to be rescued) there would be a detailed map for the rescue team to use and would greatly aid in them finding you quickly.

Use a guidebook to your advantage when planning a hike. The extensive information can really make a big impact when trying to lay out a route. A common problem I use to encounter when I was a hiking greenhorn was to bite off more than I could chew. I was so intent on cramming as much hiking into my time off that I often over estimated my abilities and those of my co-hikers when I selected a hiking trail to attempt.

Take it from the voice of experience. DON’T over do it when selecting a hiking trail. Hiking in the mountains is a lot different than walking on flat trails. It’s probably a good idea to try a few shorter hikes and gauge your average hiking speed when carrying a full backpack and hiking up the side of a mountain. After you figure out how much terrain you can comfortably cover in a full day of hiking, you can then feel much more confident when selecting a more challenging route and have a pretty accurate estimate of time to complete certain sections of a particular trail.

Incidentally, this is also another place that a topographic map would be handy. You could see how steep a section of trail is before you are even hiking. You might opt for a secondary route around it if weather made that trail dangerous. All points to consider when planning a trip.

If your interested in the Trailfinder program you can purchase Trail Finder Here or you could opt for a top quality guidebook from REI. Either or both are excellent choices when you are trying to find a trail to hike. They offer tremendous information that can make a big difference out on the trail. Be sure to tread lightly!