Whether you’re new to hiking or you’re a seasoned pro, finding hiking trails can be tricky. How can you find the right trail for your skill level? What should you expect from a new trail, and how can you make the most of it?
Thankfully there are tons of resources out there to help you find the best trails near you. Here are some tips:
Check Alltrails Website and App
No matter where you are in the world, the Alltrails website and/or app can help you. You can search by city, park, or trail name. Each trail has user-uploaded photos, directions, and a printable PDF map. You can also find key information like length, elevation gain, and route type, so you’ll know exactly what to bring with you in your backpack (if you haven’t got one yet, check out this guide to hiking backpacks for women – you’ll be able to find one to suit all kinds of hikes and day trips).
Alltrails will even give you a rough idea of the weather there, as well as the UV index and the sunrise and sunset times.
If you want even more information about your chosen route, you can look at the user comments. This will give you more of an insight into what to expect from your chosen trail, plus more up-to-date information than you would find in a guidebook or on Google. For example, people may leave messages about flooding, fallen trees, etc.
Look at the National Parks Service
The National Parks Service (NPS) maintains national parks in the U.S. They also run a website with detailed information about each park. If you live in (or are traveling to) the US and you want to tour the most beautiful outdoor spaces, this is a key website to visit. As well as information about each park, you can also visit virtually – this will give you a good idea of what to expect from your chosen trail.
If you’d rather use an app, you can look at Trailforks. While it’s designed for mountain bikers, you can still follow the maps on foot. Users can add trails as well as adding key information. It’s a handy app to have on hand.
Forums and Social Media
It’s also a good idea to have a look around social media platforms and forums. You can check Reddit, for example, the subreddit Camping and Hiking is a great resource, with tons of posts about trials across the world. It’s worth a look if you get the time – plus you can pick up some great hacks and hiking safety tips while you’re there.
You can also search for relevant hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. #onthecircuit is a popular hashtag, especially on Instagram, so it’s worth checking out especially if you’re in the planning stages of your next trip.
Of course, Tripadvisor is a great resource if you’re traveling somewhere new. It’s not aimed just at hiking, so you may have to filter some content that isn’t relevant to you. You could find some great beautiful spots here, as well as local places to eat, hotels, and other amenities.
Local Websites/Tourist Information Centers
If you’re staying somewhere new, you could check out the website for the local area. You can quickly pick up some recommendations here (although some websites aren’t very well maintained, it’s still worth checking).
If you’re going to an area that is popular with tourists, you can see if there is a tourist information center nearby. This is the best place to go, as you can ask locals for the best trails in the area.
Vlogs are a great resource. You might find a vlogger local to you, or travel vloggers – vlogs are particularly useful as they give you a great visual snapshot of what to expect from a trail.
Hopefully, this has helped you to find some beautiful, interesting, and challenging hiking trails near you!