Before you start your search it’s helpful to consider the following on how to choose the right hiking trail before heading out. Choosing the right hiking trail can be confusing at times, especially if you are new to hiking or if you are already a hiker just looking for a challenge.
Find a partner: You can hike with a friend or join other hiking groups. Even though I sometimes hike solo, I would recommend having a plus one with you to keep the hike more enjoyable and of course for safety reasons.
Calculate your available time: How much time do you have for your hike, the time needed to get there by car and return, schedule your starting and departure time.
Consider your fitness level: Remember that there are hiking trails for any level of fitness, so make sure to find something according to your strength and fitness level so you can have an enjoyable time out there.
Difficulty rate (1, 2, 3): This is the most general classification system for hikes which is determined based on the difficulties of the hiking trail.
1: is considered to be an easy trail, usually with little to no elevation gain, short to average in distance, comfortable terrain.
2: is a trail with moderate difficulty.
3: is a hard trail, usually long, steep ascents/descends, difficult terrain.
Length of the trail: Think about how many kilometers and hours you are comfortable hiking first. When you choose your trail consider the distance, in combination with the terrain, elevation gain and weight on your back (so make sure you don’t carry a lot of unnecessary weight).
Elevation gain: The amount of elevation gain on a hike is one factor that determines the difficulty. With a little experience, you’ll come to know how much elevation gain you are comfortable with and what is too much.
Weather conditions / season: Some trails won’t be accessible in winter months because of flooded rivers, snow or slippery terrain because of rain season. Also, some trails are not recommended in summer months because of too much exposure directly in the sun. Always check the weather forecast before heading out so you can choose the right trail, dress and pack accordingly.
Linear or Circular: If a trail starts at one point, following a big loop and end up back at the start, the trail is circular. If a trail starts at one point and end up at a completely different one, the trail is linear. It's important to check if the trail is linear or circular from before because you might end up doing a hike that starts and finishes at different places, so you either need to return or you could arrange for transportation to be waiting for you at the end point.
Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced hiker, I hope the tips in this post are helpful when choosing your next hiking trails. Whichever trail you choose, make sure to have fun and enjoy yourself!
Don't forget the 10 essential things you should bring with you on your day hike and feel free to share with me any comments or questions you might have!