Assess your personal and group fitness, considering time constraints and trail difficulty.
Please be realistic here. Choose hiking trails that are at an easier level if unable to meet fitness standards.
Everyone should take the following courses:
This website’s presentation is no subsitute for dedicated classroom and field (“hands-on”) training.
Instruction sources may include:
Information gathering is essential when choosing a new trail. Planning a return trip to a familiar location? Conditions may have changed since your last visit.
Trail information for specific areas is available on web sites, in guide books available at bookstores or libraries, from staff at sporting goods or outdoor stores, and from local outdoor clubs. This is helpful to get a general idea what trails are available, and provides a means to narrow down your choices.
Care must be exercised, however, because web sites are helpful only if their information is authoritative and current. Books may be out of date. Outdoor store information varies by the knowledge and experience of the employees you talk to.
There may be closures you aren’t aware of. Trails may be closed or restricted due to slides, washouts, fire danger, animal concerns, or other safety issues. It may be dangerous to travel without special training and equipment because of early or late season snow conditions, or extreme route difficulty.
trailhead– A maintained or prescribed vehicle parking or staging area located at the start or end of a trail or trail system.
Vehicle access to the trail parking lot or trailhead is a planning consideration. Your vehicle may be unsuitable for area roads or driving conditions.
Trailhead Theft and Vandalism– Is the trailhead parking area subject to theft or vandalism? Theft (items taken from vehicles, or sometimes the entire vehicle) is a chronic problem at some locations.
Inquire at the Ranger Station, Park Office, or local law endforcement agency. Determine if criminal activity at trailheads is a concern in the area, and ask about prevention measures.
You might discover that your initial trail choice may not be the best choice. The Ranger Station or Park Office may suggest alternate trips that are more realistic, safer, and just as enjoyable!