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How To Choose Your First Or Next Hike

How To Choose Your First Or Next Hike
Whether you are just getting into hiking, or you have been an avid hiker your entire life, choosing your next hike can be a difficult process. With so many trails to choose from, it can help to simply consider some attributes to narrow down your options. This article aims to explain what beginners or experts should be considered when picking their next hike, as well as lay out some tips for finding your best next hike.

What To Consider When Choosing A Hike


Of course, location plays a major role in the decision to your next hike. If you are located in close proximity to many hikes, your options widen significantly. If you aren’t looking to travel far, set up a radius that you are willing to traverse with your trekking polesConsider far away hikes as options for camping trips, or long weekend getaways, and reserve your closest hikes for times when you have less time, or just aren’t up for the travel.


Do you want to be hiking 15+ miles in a day, or are you looking for a couple of miles just to get outside for a bit? I know this is obvious, but just setting up a range of hike distances will drastically narrow down your hiking options. Don’t forget that a 5-mile hike with 3,500 feet of elevation gain is likely going to take a lot longer than a 10-mile walk in the woods.


If you have little experience with hikes that have large amounts of elevation gain, you may want to consider holding back on a larger mountain. If you are new to the mountains, be looking for beginner to intermediate level hikes.
The difficulty is adjusted by three main factors, distance, elevation gain, and steepness. Be sure to consider all of these when determining the difficulty of a hike. Beginners should choose shorter hikes that offer the option for continuing on to other viewpoints, mountains, or longer alternate routes back. If you feel great, continue on.
Avid hikers often want to make sure they are covering heavy mileage and elevation gain. If this is the case, don’t go for the tourist trap, take advantage of the some of the longer mileage and less traveled hikes.


In many areas of the planet, hiking in the winter is vastly different than hiking in other months. It can offer unique and incredible views, turning rugged trails into smooth powder, or easy trails into icy and dangerous messes.
It is important to understand that in the winter, the gear and preparation necessary to stay safe is very different, so much more caution should be taken.
Newbie winter hikers should start with smaller and shorter mountains to get used to hiking in the snow. Even experienced hikers should take caution with winter hiking.

Your Fitness Levels

Fitness plays a major role in the hikes you can complete, and the time necessary to complete your hike. Some individuals can finish long distance hikes in half the time as others. Knowing where you stand on a fitness level will help greatly.
Most trail guides give a “book time” which allows you to understand how long a hike will take for the average person. As you begin to hike more, compare your times to book times so that you can better estimate your personal hiking times on trails in the future.


Don’t forget about choosing a hike with the scenery you want! Do you want 360-degree summit views? Lake Views? Waterfalls? If you are looking for great views, maybe you don’t want to select a mountain with a summit in the trees.

Now How Do I Find A Hike That Fits My Needs?

As a native of New Hampshire that has hiked just about all of the mountains the state has to offer, finding new hikes, the next hike, or the best hike for a friend has become difficult. So much so, that I even created a tool to help:
This tool takes in attributes of hikes and spits out all of the options that have been written about on my website, but of course, I haven’t written about every hike in the world, so what then?

The Best Ways To Find Your Next Hike

After you have considered all of the above, it is time to actually search.

1. Facebook Groups  

Once you have narrowed your location down, search for local Facebook hiking groups. There is a lot of them, and they are for just about every area with hiking that you could imagine. Let them know how far you’d like to go, some sights you’d like to see, and your ability level, and many of these individuals would be happy to help you out. As a bonus, nearly all of the hiking guides in the area will be in these hiking groups and looking to help.

2. Hiking Guides

Contact a local hiking guide service. Most will be happy to give you advice, and one of the best ways to find the right hike is to get a hiking guide. They are the local area experts and deal with beginners all the time. Plus, they will have things you may need to rent.

3. Google Search

Give a classic google search for hikes in the area. Add a modifier to your search (easiest, best, waterfall hikes, etc.) You’ll find some larger websites as well as local blogs. Explore both in your research.