Whether the mountains are calling or you’re in a new scenic area just begging to be explored, one question’s bound to come up: Are there hiking trails near me? Here are a few ideas to make the hunt for nearby hiking trails a little easier:
1. Purchase A Detailed Topographical Map Or Recreation Atlas.
An up-to-date topographical map or recreation atlas for your state is always a good thing to have on hand. Not only will it come in handy when you head out of cell phone range, but it provides you with a thorough overview of the area’s parks, trails and land ownership, as well as the often gravel backroads you’ll need to take to get to trailheads. This is a great tool to get a general overview of the recreational opportunities—regional parks, wilderness areas and more—in your area.
2. Visit Your Local Visitor Center Or Chamber Of Commerce.
You might be wondering, Which hiking trails near me are a good fit for my fitness level? It’s a good question, and your local visitor center or chamber of commerce can almost certainly answer it. While you might not have noticed it, your town likely has one (or both) of these establishments. These are great resources for maps and insight on the area’s outdoor recreational opportunities, including personal advice on the best hiking trails. They will likely have maps and directions to each park and trailhead, as well as the latest information on trail conditions and which trail or park might best suit your needs.
3. Go To Your Nearest Regional Or State Park, And Ask Park Staff For Maps And Advice On Local Trails.
If you already know which park you’d like to hike (thanks to your trusty recreational atlas!), your best bet for the most accurate information is to head to the park visitor center. There you can pick up a trail map and get the scoop from park staff on the day’s trail conditions.
Backroads Pro Tip
Park rangers and visitor center staff will have the most up-to-date information and be the most informed about things like muddy trails, swollen rivers and trail closures within the park.
4. Google Search: “Hiking Trails Near [Your Location].”
A handy shortcut to finding the best hiking trails near you is to simply search Google using the search term “hiking trails near [your location].” This will lead you to local websites with curated lists of trails, as well as articles in local publications about the area’s best day hikes. There’s really no better way to sift through the options and find the best of the best in your area than using page one Google results.
5. Visit An Awesome Website For Detailed Information And Advice.
There are innumerable online resources that cater to every type of hiker and traveler. Here are a few particularly useful ones:
What sets Hiking Project apart is its trail directory by state and by country. It’s one of the few tools out there with an international hiking trail directory. Their trail listings include all the important information (trail length, latest trail conditions and topography) while also clueing you into what the trail is known for and what flora and fauna you can expect to find during your hike. To help you with on-trail navigation, you can also download their app.
Many hikers are big fans of this resource. With a mission to “create the most intuitive, comprehensive, and inspiring outdoor adventure resource ever,” they’ve done a terrific job of cataloguing an extensive collection of curated outdoor advice and guides. Take a look through the beautiful photography, and search for adventures by geographic region, specific location or activity type. Then get ready to start planning!
Using the search tool on AllTrails, you can research the nearest hiking trails by city, state or park and then filter your results by different criteria, such as kid- or dog-friendly trails, trails known for wildlife or wildflowers or even the best trails for tail running. AllTrails has access to more than 50,000 trail maps and includes detailed directions to each trailhead, trail rating and difficulty level to help you sort through the options. It’s worth downloading their free app to search for trails on the go.
Trails.com is a robust tool for any sort of outdoor activity. Like AllTrails, you can search their site by park, city, state or zip code to find hiking trails that range from moderately strenuous day hikes to extended overnight backpacking trips. Whatever your ability or experience level, you can find an appropriate trail recommendation here.
Backroads Pro Tip
Word is Trails.com has an app in development. Keep your eyes open for that in the (hopefully) near future!
TrailLink is a free service created by the nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy. You’ll need to register to fully access the site’s features. (Don’t worry. It’s free to register.) Their trail database includes more than 30,000 miles of trail maps, multiday trail itineraries and even some of the history behind many of the trails . They also have an app you can download.
American Trails mainly features National Recreational Trails in the United States, but they also have a small database of trails for Canada and other international locations. American Trails lists everything from historic trails and scenic trails to rail trails and state-specific community trails. They also provide information about the national park service and parks and recreation offices in each state.