Selecting a Good Hiking Trail
The type and location of the trail you select can play a significant
role in determining the enjoyment you get from a hiking experience.
Before heading out on your next hike, evaluate the trail based on the
Define Your Objectives: Select a trail according to your planned
activities. Hikers hoping to photograph wildlife are going to want a
quiet, secluded trail that sees little foot-traffic. Short trails over
easy terrain are better suited to hiking with children. A trail with
miles of ups and downs will be great for physical conditioning.
Consider Your Level of Experience: If you're going to hike alone, take
an honest assessment of your experience and physical abilities. Are
you in good shape or has your physical activity been limited? Can you
navigate with a compass and map? If you have a cell phone, take it
along. Realize though, that it may not work on the trail and if
something goes wrong, you need to know what to do. Unless you have a
lot of experience, don't hike alone.
If you're hiking with a group, select trails based on those with the
least amount of ability and experience. If you want to reach the
summit of mount Buena Vista, make sure you hike with companions that
can reach the top. Novices should start on shorter trails over easy
terrain until they are comfortable with navigation and carrying a
Account for Distance & Time: It's easy to underestimate the time you
need to complete a hike. This can turn a planned 3-hour hike into a
6-hour ordeal. A good rule of thumb is to plan on 5-10 miles per day
over moderate terrain if carrying a full load. On flat terrain, you'll
probably cover a mile in about 30 minutes. For every 1,000 feet you
gain in elevation add another hour. For every 1,000 feet you lose in
elevation add 30 minutes. Factor in 5 minutes of rest for every hour
hiked and remember that multi-day trips should include a full rest day
for every 4-6 days on the trail.
Location Matters: The trail you select should have ample links to
other trails or alternative routes should you find a section closed or
in case of a medical emergency. If you're going on a multi-day trip,
make sure the trail comes within close proximity to water, campsites
and places to re-provision if necessary. Don't hike trails (however
well-marked) that don't have a map.
Factor in Weather: Seasons affect the hours of available daylight and
use patterns on a trail. Check local weather forecasts. Certain
patterns (sudden storms, for example) are more typical of certain
seasons. Don't forget to take into account variables that might affect
the weather like changes in altitude along the trail.
Rules & Regulations: Regulations or restrictions on group size limits,
campfires, hunting or breeding seasons may be in affect in areas
around certain trails. Check with park or trail officials regarding
any restrictions or necessary permits that may apply to the trail
Copyright 2005, Kathy Burns-Millyard. This article is provided courtesy
of DoHiking.com - http://www.dohiking.com - a large and growing hiking
website featuring articles, tips, advice and shopping for hiking &
camping enthusiasts. This article may be freely published on any
website, as long as the author, copyright, website address and link,
and this notice are left intact.