It’s time to get outside!
Going outside, especially when you can be in nature, provides so many benefits to mental and physical health. Even just looking at trees lowers stress levels and blood pressure. Walking in nature can improve your mood and focus, not to mention the vitamin D you get from being outdoors.
As the weather changes and leaves reappear on trees, it’s time to schedule some outdoor hiking trips, even if you can’t go far from home. In the past, if you wanted to find a trail to hike, you had to stumble around and hope that you found one. Now, you can use an amazing app called AllTrails! It’s the #1 app for hikers and the best way to find hiking trails near me or wherever you want to explore.
Find Trails Near Me to Hike
AllTrails has an extensive catalog of trails- short, long, flat, mountainous, paved, dirt… the list goes on. You may not even realize how many trails are around you!
Whether you’re at home or on a trip, you can use the search function, ratings, and trail reviews on AllTrails to help you find one or many outdoor getaways. With categories and rankings like best hiking trails, best views, closest trails, most popular trails, and each type of outdoor activity, there’s something for everyone.
Instead of having to excavate through Facebook groups, websites that were last updated in 1998, or semi-accurate word-of-mouth recommendations, you can explore all available trail information in one place.
Best Hiking Route Planner
The best way to use AllTrails is as a route planner for your hike. As you browse, click the bookmark to save any trails you might want to hike.
When you’re ready to get outside, pull up that list of saved trails and choose the one that looks most appealing to you.
You’ll want to pay attention to these trail factors:
The difficulty of trails can vary widely depending on your location. If you’re near a place with mountains, a difficult trail could literally include climbing mountains or ravines. If you’re based in a city, an easy trail might be a paved walkway along a canal.
Keep in mind your trail experience- if you’re a newly minted hiker, it’s a smart and safe decision to try a couple easy or moderate trails before jumping to difficult.
Type of Trail
Is the trail you’re considering a loop, out and back, or point to point?
A loop trail will wind around and bring you back to where you started.
An out-and-back trail takes you to a specific point (usually a nice view or landmark) and follows the same trail back to the start.
A point-to-point trail starts in one place but ends in a different one.
If the trail you’re considering is point-to-point, you will either need to choose a turnaround point or have a way (like another car or a specified pickup person) at the end to get transport back to the beginning.
How long will you be hiking, and how far do you plan to go?
A short walk close to your residence may only require a water bottle or your tennis shoes.
For a longer or more challenging hike, you will want more hiking supplies- water bottles, food, hiking boots, and even possibly safety equipment like a headlamp and a basic first aid kit.
If you’re interested in a longer trail but not sure if you want to do the whole thing, you can plan an earlier turnaround point and create a shorter hike for yourself. Planning ahead and knowing your limits keeps you and others safe out on the trails!
If your trail looks like it intersects with other trails, make sure you know which way to turn to stick to your planned route. It’s always good to keep a map of the trail on your phone (AllTrails has downloadable trail maps for hikes out of cell service range.) that you can refer to either to stay on your planned route or make a route deviation.
Conditions (Trail and Weather)
Pick a day for hiking- what will the weather be like?
You absolutely don’t have to limit yourself to only going outside when it’s warm and sunny, but other weather does take additional preparation if you plan to be outside. Even with preparation, it’s still a good idea to postpone your hike if there’s a chance of severe weather.
For rainy weather, pack a raincoat and make sure you’re wearing shoes that can deal with water and mud.
For colder weather, you’ll want to wear warm, water-wicking layers and have covers for extremities like a scarf or face mask, gloves, hat, and warm socks.
You can also use the reviews on AllTrails to check the current trail conditions. When many people leave reviews, they also mention mud, downed trees, and if parts of the trail are closed. It’s never a sure thing, but checking for more information is always better than having less!
If the conditions are not what you expect when you set out, be prepared to turn back and leave the hike for another day.
Are you solo hiking this trail or inviting friends to come along?
All the considerations above are not only for yourself but for a group. Make sure everyone in the group is okay with the plan before you start a hike and that everyone feels comfortable with the hike’s difficulty and conditions.
If your friends and family aren’t hiking inclined, AllTrails also has a community feature! Invite friends, see trail pictures from others, and find nearby hiking buddies.
It’s time to get out there!
The day is here! Pack any equipment you need, check trail and weather conditions, and get out there!
Tip: before you start a hike, head to the Navigate tab to start recording your hike. You can check at the end to see how far you went, how long you hiked, and any elevation gain.
At the end of a hike, review your experience!
If you enjoyed the hike, plan more similar experiences. If you didn’t like the hike you planned, figure out what you didn’t enjoy and plan a different hiking experience for next time.
Starting right away you’ll develop your personal list of the best hiking trails near you. There are many, many different ways to get outdoors- you just have to find the way that makes you happy!
Ready to find out more?
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Sarah Siertle, a strength and movement coach, specializes in introducing people to strength training and works to make the fitness world a more inclusive place. She has been a movement instructor since 2012 and also teaches swing dance around the US. Find other articles written by Sarah on her coach profile. Let Sarah help you get STRONG so you can take advantage of life’s adventures!