Being that I’m a hiker at heart, I’m always searching for a trail to put my feet on, no matter where I’m headed. It doesn’t matter what kind of trip I’m taking: locally, a big city, or abroad, there is bound to be a trail nearby that I can check out. I love that each new place I visit has something different to see or do. If I had stayed in the car or the hotel, I might have missed out on something amazing. I encourage you to get outdoors and on the trail in search of a new plant, a different animal you’ve never seen, or a view that takes your breath away. These are the things that you will not forget.
The question I’m asked the most, is “Glynis, how do you even know where to find these places you go hiking when you’ve never been there before?” Let me share some ideas that may help you find a trail to escape on after your next business meeting, to share with your beau on your honeymoon, or with the fam on your next camping trip. I’ve always said, “adventure is out there, you just need to know where to look for it.” Start looking….
1) Start with a web search: It sounds obvious..but this it my first resource when I’m going to a new place or don’t have a hike already in mind. My most useful search terms to start are “best hikes in (insert place here)” or “hiking trails near (again, insert place here). You get the idea. Once I find a hike that suits what I’m looking for, I will search for photos and any additional trail information to find out more.
For example: On my latest trip to Italy, I wanted to find some adventures but I knew absolutely NOTHING about what trails may be there. A quick search brought up one of the most popular and breathtaking hikes in the area. The Path of the Gods (check out my other post). Once I found this idea, I rolled with it and used these other methods to find out more…
2) Trail maps or guide books: If you plan on doing more than one hike, or returning to an area frequently, buying a guide-book or hiking trail book is a good investment. For example, books like “50 great hikes in Nova Scotia,” give you a variety to choose from. Usually the town, park or city you are going to will have a more local, applicable selection available.
3) Ask locally: This one usually works best for places where it’s hard to get resources ahead of time, like abroad. But I use it every time. Typically a visitor center, tourist info station, equipment rental place or someone at your hotel/hostel can suggest something incredible. Don’t be shy to ask, they are your most valuable resource.
4) Adventure companies: If I’m going on a trip by myself, in a new place or planning an activity I don’t feel comfortable doing alone, I may choose to use a company. You will pay a bit more but if you don’t have the skill set, comfort level or gear, it’s worth it to let someone else take care of that. I also like to see what types of tours the company may offer because they usually outline trip routes or trail suggestions so I can get an idea of if I could go it alone or if I would need a guide or company to show me the ropes.
5) Trail Apps: Apps like AllTrails or EveryTrail are an excellent resource when searching a particular area for hikes. Added bonus is that they often have hiker reviews or photos of the trail. You can even narrow your search by desired duration, mileage, sport (biking or skiing if you wish), and pet friendly trails!
6) Blogs like Hiker at Heart – Personal blogs give insider information that supplement the basics in ways you can’t find anywhere else. This isn’t just trail facts, it’s real-world experience. It also can give some insight about what hikes people like and dislike and maybe you’ll find one you didn’t know about! When you are doing a web search, these sites tend to come up later in the list so don’t give up on the first page of results.
7) Backpacker Magazine: has been my resource for years to find new and amazing hikes. If you don’t get their magazine (but why wouldn’t you?) they have tons of hikes listed online with descriptions and photos.
8) Section hikes from long distance trails: A section hike is a segment of a longer distance trail, and there are plenty to choose from. (No excuses now, right?) To name a few: the Pacific Crest trail on the west coast of the USA runs through California, Oregan and Washington. The Appalachian trail runs through 14 states on the eastern side of the USA. The Continental Divide trail runs spans 5 states and also extends into Canada as the Great Divide trail, in Alberta And British Columbia. You will be surprised how many smaller, less known long distance trails exist: The Bruce Trail in Ontario, The West Coast Trail in BC, the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland, the John Muir Trail in California, the North Country Trail in the midwest USA, just to name a few. There are plenty of resources, maps and access points for these trails out there which makes them convenient options.
9) Friends: I’m so very thankful that I’ve met so many amazing people on my travels and adventures who live all over the world. There is no better resource than the people you know. Chances are, if they have done a great hike, seen something worth checking out or know of a grand adventure, they are going to be totally pumped to share it with you. Every time I meet someone new, I’m always picking their brain about their favorite adventures to expand my bucket list.
What sites or resources do you find most useful when you are planning a hike ?
If you love my tips and trails, be sure to follow my blog so you can find your next adventure!