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How to Find Hiking Trails By Brian

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By: Brian

A man sits on a scenic hill overlooking a bright blue lake

Source: How to Find Hiking Trails | OutsideHow

OutsideHow founder Brian teaches us how to find nearby hiking trails online.

Getting out of your normal routine and being in nature is special. It can bring the family together and cleanse the soul. Plus, that feeling of accomplishment from hiking boosts your well-being.

Nowadays, it’s quite easy to find information on the internet about great local hikes. But at times, the information you get is not what you want and need, even with all the digging around.

Fortunately, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on some much-needed research, and I’m happy to share these resources so that your hikes can be the perfect ones that you want.

Table of Contents

Purchase a Recreational Atlas or a Detailed Topographical Map

A hat, boots, and a compass rest on a hiking map

Source: How to Find Hiking Trails | OutsideHow

It is always a good thing to have a recreational atlas or up-to-date topographical map of your state on hand.

As you move out of cell phone range, it’ll be of great help. They also provide you with an overview of the land ownership, the parks in the area, the trails, as well as backroads made of gravel that you may have to take to get to the trailheads.

Both are great tools for getting a general overview of the wilderness areas, regional parks, and more. This will then provide you with even more recreational opportunities!

Visit Your Local Visitor Center or Chamber of Commerce

You’re often left wondering about the hiking trails that are near to you and fit for your level of fitness. It’s a good question that both your Chamber of Commerce and the local Visitor Center should have answers for.

Normally, these establishments aren’t ones that you’ll have noticed, but in all probability, your town should have one or both.

There you can source maps and look into the recreational opportunities in your area, with personal advice on the best trails for hiking.

They’ll have maps that’ll direct you to every park and trailhead, the latest information on the conditions of the trail, and the park or trial that may suit your particular needs.

Talk to Staff at Your Nearest State or Regional Park

Your reliable recreational atlas should’ve already helped you zero in on the park you’d like to go hiking at. If you want accurate information, you can get it from the park visitor center.

You can even pick up a trail map there, and get all the scoop from the staff at the park about the conditions on the trail today.

Visitor Center staff and Park Rangers will always have up-to-date information about swollen rivers, muddy trails, and trails the park has closed.

Google Search: “Hiking Trails Near [Your Location]”

Go to Google and use the search term “hiking trails near [your location].” This will help you can find the best nearby hiking trails.

This search may take you to local websites that will have articles in local publications about the best day hikes in your area, as well as a curated list of trails.

Hiking Trail Apps

Graphic of a man hiking through his phone

Source: How to Find Hiking Trails | OutsideHow

There are free hiking apps that also have paid versions and upgrades that can provide you with more features and details. It’s always good to have something free, but you’re more likely to get what you pay for.

You’ll find many such apps, but here’s a list of my favorites.


AllTrails is a free, user-driven app that has more than fifty thousand trails selected and organized by its over four million users. The location of your phone can pull up trails that are nearest to you. When I used the app, I was shown 250 trails near me.

Each hike will have its topographical map, photos, elevation profiles, reviews, and comments. This app has a premium paid edition that can provide you with additional features, too.

Hiking Project

REI Co-op, an outdoor retailer, has a free, user-driven app that offers more than 37,000 trails.

Locate enjoyable hikes near you by simply inputting your location with Hiking Project. All of the trails include details on elevation profiles, topographical maps, trail gradients, reviews, photos, nearby trails, and hiker comments.

There’s also a companion app from REI that shows various hiking opportunities at National Monuments and REI National Parks. That app has over 5,000 hikes to choose from!


ViewRanger is a free app that uses maps from users, tourism agencies, and major outdoor brands. It has the same features as the apps above.

What’s unique about this app is its an augmented reality feature, Skyline, that uses the camera on your phone and allows you to label geographic features while you’re hiking. Isn’t that cool?

Websites to Find Hiking Trails

A green, luscious mountain

Source: How to Find Hiking Trails | OutsideHow

Many websites have mobile apps, but they’re not a reliable source for finding hiking trails. I happen to love reading, researching and planning my outdoor adventures, so it’s no problem for me to find time to explore these websites.


RootsRated is an outlet that connects its readers to hiking and other outdoor experiences. Its reviews aren’t crowdsourced, rather, they’re a collection of trails and activities submitted by the local experts on outdoor activities.

Select “HIKING” or search for other outdoor adventures when you use the search engine, choose your location, and start your search.

RootsRated is fairly new, but they are very active in adding new trails, locations, and cities.


TripAdvisor is a site that’s for far more than just reviews of hotels and bookings. Search for your destination and you can find good information about nearby hiking trails. Many of these popular destinations have forums with multiple topics, as well.

You’ll often find hiking trails listed as “Things to do” if any destination you’ve searched for is known for outdoor activities.

Take the time to read reviews, as you’ll often find some hidden gems that aren’t listed on destination websites or common trail apps.

The nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy provides TrailLink.com as a free service. You need to be registered to get full access to the features of this site. It’s free to register, so that’s not a worry.

Their database of trails has more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and itineraries for multiday trail trips. It also gives you the history behind many of the listed trails.


AmericanTrails features the National Recreational Trails in the United States but also includes a database of some trails in Canada as well as other international locations.

You’ll find scenic trails, historical trails, rail trails, and community trails that are state-specific. You can also get information about parks and recreation offices, state-wise, as well as the National Park service.


Facebook groups can be a gold mine of information on hiking trails. Members of these groups post pictures and info on trials, and you can always ask questions or ask for trail hiking recommendations.

Start your search for these hiking groups (some of them are large) and other general hiking groups. These members can give you needed information on hiking trails in the area you are researching.

There are many of these groups that are specific to certain areas, too. Join both kinds.

Additionally, Facebook always notices your search history and activity. After your search, it’ll begin recommending groups for you to join, as well.


Pinterest isn’t just a search engine for recipes and home decor. Many websites and blogs will PIN posts and articles that can help you find outdoor activities.

Pinterest is easy to use, even if you’re new to it. Search for hiking trails and the page will load with pins that’ll lead to articles covering hiking trails.

The account here is free, too. Once you’ve joined it, create boards about hiking trails to save your favorite pins.

Not only is it a great way to find tips for hiking and trails, but you’ll discover some websites and awesome blogs that you never knew existed!

Twitter & Instagram For Hikers

Twitter and Instagram can also get you some details on hikes. Use hashtags to navigate the apps and share posts with information that can be useful.

And if you’re a visual person who requires a photo to get convinced, then start searching on Instagram!

YouTube For Hikers

Go to Youtube and look for hike-related.

Be careful, however, as content on this site is so good that watching too many videos may make you feel as though you’ve already been on that trail!

But for me, watching videos never spoils a hike. After all, there’s nothing that compares to hiking and seeing things with your own eyes.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails

A yorkshire terrier relaxes near hiking equipment

Source: How to Find Hiking Trails | OutsideHow

As a hiker, you may want your canine friend to be with you when you’re on the trail. Not all trails allow dogs, so it’s important to do your research before bringing your pup with.

The Hiking Project app will note whether a trail allows dogs if that information is known. The Alltrails app can also list dog-friendly trails for you.

BringFido.com is a website that locates places that you can bring your dog to. As a user, you can search hiking trails, submit photos, and read trail info along with ratings. This website has a list of dog-friendly campgrounds, as well.

HikeWithYourDog.com is another website dedicated to going on a hike with dogs. It has a lot of articles, guide books, as well as trails.

There’s also a group on Facebook with more than 26,000 members called “Hiking With Dogs.”

Continue reading the full article on OutsideHow for a comprehensive list of trails sure to take your breath away!

Head on over to OutsideHow for outdoor guides, reviews, and more!

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