So you’ve decided you want to take a hike? Great! The next question is obviously: Where? It’s intimidating, going from an urban or a suburban living into the woods. How do you find a wilderness hike?
Here are a few ways to find your next hiking adventure:
There Are Hikers Around You
Hiking can be a solitary activity, a chance to surround yourself in nature and recharge your batteries after your repeated social drain from work, family and friends. But the experiences from hiking are meant to be shared, showing your pictures, or talking about the sunrise, or catching a glimpse of the wildlife which we we urban dwellers don’t get to enjoy.
One of our best hiking resources can simply be talking to friends or coworkers who also enjoy hiking and discussing with them. Find out first hand how difficult a trail is, when is the best time of the year to go, and what to expect when you do.
If none of your friends or family are hikers, then you can always make use of your nearby outdoor retail stores. Stores like REI or other companies which are staffed by outdoors people and not just minimum wage high schoolers, are among the greatest resource you can have as they will not only be able to tell you about trails and hikes, but also about groups or clubs you might join to meet up with like minded people.
In the Aisles of the Bookstore
I know it’s tempting to immediately dive into the computer and use it as your go to resource, and indeed it can be a valuable addition but there is one key reason I put the bookstore ahead of the web when it comes to resource.
That reason is, the books about local trails or regional hiking, are often published by trail organizations. The groups which are organized to maintain and protect trails. So by purchasing their books you’re supporting these groups which help oversee and maintain the very trails you’re looking to go hike.
Additionally, bookstores provide the resource for outdoors magazines. While magazines are less regional, they can provide great insight and resources for hikes if you’re looking for something more than a day hike.
National Parks Service
There is at least one National Park in every state in the United States, and the number of nationally recognized wilderness areas around the world are continuing to grow. These government managed parks and wilderness often house fantastic trails for people to make use of.
If you have access to a national park then that park’s own trails can be fantastic hiking for both day hikes and longer outings. You can find info about the trails on the park’s website or if there are pamphlets available with trail info.
Your Local Trail Clubs & Trail Associations
As I mentioned above, there are groups dedicated to hiking on trails or in specific regions. They might oversee a portion of the Appalachian trail, or they might be in charge of a smaller trail right near your town, but more than likely if you’re in a metro area with access to the outdoors you’re going to find a group of people who hike regularly and can be a resource to you.
Additionally these clubs usually maintain a website online which details hiking their favored or sponsored trails. These websites will include directions for getting to the trail, information about the trail itself, as well as any events they may be sponsoring such as work trips to repair or maintain parts of the trail, or just simply group hikes and outings.
Outdoor Resource Websites
Aside from those websites which are maintained by trail groups, there are of course online resources such as OffHiking.com. There are a number of online trail databases. These tend to be the least reliable for up to date information as they’re usually generated off a database and none have achieved critical mass to create the single go-to resource.
What these do provide is a starting point for those of you digitally inclined. You can find a few trails and then trek to your local outdoors retailer to investigate them further with employees there or through the books you might find.