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Finding Hikes
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Finding Hikes on 11/09/2011 14:12:34 MST Print View

I have had this problem for a few years, essentially I have such a hard time finding new hikes. I typically am looking for an overnighter with a 20-30 mile loop. is usually chokked full of 2-5 mile hikes, but that doesn't help me. I seem to find that same issue with every search result click from "san francisco hikes" and even "san francisco backpacking". is pretty sweet but I'm looking to see if anyone has a better METHOD for this than I do. I think there has to be!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
forums on 11/09/2011 14:55:30 MST Print View

There is. Post to this site, "Looking for a 30 mile hike near..... " Guarantee you will get as many suggestions as you need. This has been one of the biggest benefits of this site for me. I even had one member offer to shuttle me quite a ways to the trailhead.

I then usually search the trip reports now that they are searchable, and google promising trips.

Good luck. Enjoyed your JMT writeup by the way.

Edited by Ike on 11/09/2011 15:50:35 MST.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
I'm with you on 11/10/2011 08:21:35 MST Print View

Honestly I'm with you. It's very difficult to find good trails that are possible for overnight and next to impossible to find one that's a loop so I even if I can find a trail, if I want to go on impromptu weekend trip I can't unless I find someone to help me with the car thing.

Ike does have a bit of a point but the only issue I find is that I've had people tell me about trips and I either can't find a trail map or it's not a well marked trail and I'm concerned about my hiking skills still, or there is absolutely no info on where the trail head is. My most frustrating is there are several loops in my area that loop with the AT but they are not truly official loops so there is no guide to tell you how exactly to do it.

I don't know, maybe I'm making it more difficult than it needs to be but I just don't seem to have any luck finding trails anywhere either.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Finding Hikes on 11/10/2011 08:40:47 MST Print View

I recommend the classic method. Choose the region, look at a paper map, find trails. Lots of potential trips are not on the web or in books.

Now there are lots of different types of maps, but for exploratory work, public land agency overview maps are a great start.

This place is gold:

Edited by Found on 11/10/2011 08:43:16 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Finding Hikes on 11/10/2011 10:39:54 MST Print View

Same as Jack. Get a good paper map and devise the loop yourself. The only problem I've had with this method is not knowing if the trail is really there. The chapparal eats trails up. So when I planned my crazy route from Santa Barbara to the PCT I used a combination of paper maps and searching the Internet for trip reports, sending emails to total strangers hoping for replies, and even some pre-trip scouting of the trails. I got a big break when I posted to my blog the route I was planning and some guy happened to stumble upon my blog post through google (he was searching to see if anyone had done as crazy a hike as he had just done) and sent me a fresh trip report with details on where to find all the water.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Finding Hikes on 11/11/2011 13:18:24 MST Print View

I find searching on the web for people's suggestions or trip reports can be pretty hit or miss depending on the area, and generally you only find info about the most popular routes that way. I do the same thing as Jack and Piper: look over maps and find areas that look interesting. The advantage of this is that you'll often find some hidden gems that you wouldn't otherwise hear about.

Some resources:
ArcGIS has stitched USGS quads for the whole US with a nice web interface.
National Geographic has web previews of their Trails Illustrated maps online, which are more up to date than the USGS quads and has trail mileage and extra info.
This google docs spreadsheet has an index to old trip reports on BPL.

Once you find something on the maps, a well-directed Google search will usually give you good info about water availability, trail conditions, etc.


Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: Finding Hikes on 11/14/2011 11:44:57 MST Print View

When my friend and I got into backpacking, we went with the classic map method. Then we found various websites of people who kept a database of all their hikes and sorted through them along with forums. Being located in Bakersfield makes it easy though, especially with dedicated forums to the High Sierras and Death Valley, the main places we go.

Robert Atwood
(Courtright) - F

Locale: Sierras
Finding Hikes on 11/20/2011 21:04:17 MST Print View

I've had good luck signing up for the local hiking/backpacking group on I never actually go with the groups, but there are some great ideas for hikes from people who know the area and hike regularly. Other than that, I use the Tom Harrison recreation maps for whatever area I'm interested in and try to put together a decent hike.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Finding Hikes on 11/21/2011 17:37:24 MST Print View

If it is posted on the Internet, then it is likely to be populated... off season maybe excepted.

A few years ago I wanted to start hiking in Nevada, so I got a big map of the state. Then I looked at vast areas with no roads, but possible water sources. Then I filtered down to research specific areas... geologic formations, fauna, etc. Now if there was a well used trail, it was struck from my list of potentials. If a posted cross-country route with GPS way points was posted, it went to the bottom of my list. If a posted cross country route with vague descriptions and warnings of getting lost are found it went to the middle of my list. Routes that looked feasible from a topo map with no trails, now get hiked every year.

I do the same thing here in southern California with millions of inhabitants. Beautiful solitary places with large loops, and no people.


Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Finding Hikes on 11/21/2011 21:42:16 MST Print View

Being stranded in the Midwest leaves me with few options. Sure, I can look at a Topo map and make a cool route but one is likely to get shot by rednecks on private property or encounter too big of a river to cross. State parks are way too crowded. This leaves me with state forest which have been somewhat pleasant but relatively boring.

So, usually I do more significant trips out of state to the neat places that are pretty well documented online or in books.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
book options? on 11/21/2011 23:25:21 MST Print View

In my area (WA state), I've found a couple of books that I like. "Trekking Washington" offers a number of longer distance hikes. "Best Loop Hikes in Washington" does offer a lot of relatively short loops, but it also has a few in the range that you're talking about.

Obviously this solution won't work everywhere, but who knows, maybe there are ~local hike trip books that you're not aware of.