How to Find Hiking Trails
Finding hiking and backpacking trails is one of my most frequently asked questions. It seems that most people get stumped when it comes to finding hiking trails.
If you’re looking for more local hiking trails, you can ask your co-workers and neighbors. Chances are, most people have done a more local and shorter trail. But if you want to expand beyond the local trails and do more destination-focused trails, that’s where the confusion sets in.
How do you know where to go?
How do you decide where you want to go?
How do you find trails?
How do you choose the trails you end up doing?
For me, it starts with figuring out where I want to explore. I usually sit down at the beginning of the year and figure out where I want to go that year. But if you don’t do this in January through March, doesn’t mean you missed your chance to explore this year! You can sit down and figure out where you want to go at any point.
I usually start with deciding what general area or bigger trail I want to explore. Do I want to explore Montana this year? Head to Iceland or Canada? Explore Thailand? Do a thru-hike like the John Muir Trail or the High Sierra Trail? Hike a trail like Havasupai, Mt. Whitney, or Half Dome?
First, figure out where you want to go, and from there, you can narrow down your search to the actual trails. I narrow down this search by just feeling it out. What area or trail do I feel like exploring this year?
Top Places To Find Hiking Trails
Here are my top places to find hiking trails:
- Search Pinterest
- Google destinations
- Read through blogs (like this one!)
- Ask in Facebook Groups
- Look on Instagram for inspiration
- Get a hiking destination book
- Ask the local tourism board
- Apps like All Trails
- Look through location maps like National Geographic’s
Not sure where to start?
Use sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and travel blogs to get travel inspiration! You can follow travel bloggers (like me!) for ideas on where to go. Just search through the site or our Instagram profiles for ideas!
You can also lookup places on Pinterest and Google for things like “top national parks to visit in the spring” or “best trails to go backpacking in Washington.”
Once You Find an Area
I’m a very visual person, so I love planning trails with maps. Because I can open up the map and actually see everything. Maybe there’s a trail that leads to a rad lake? Or connects to another trail? Or maybe there’s a peak or a waterfall that looks enticing? Maybe there’s a rad trail that didn’t look like anything interesting on AllTrails?
I cannot recommend getting a physical map enough. This is one of the most under looked ways of planning trips. But maps are the gateway to so much adventure to be had.
From there, I research the trail(s) on AllTrails and look up different blogs posts. I read trail reports, look up the mileage, elevation gain, try to find photos to see what it really looks like, read up on any regulations and see if permits are required. Then start the planning process from there!