The good news? We scored a camping spot for our RV. The bad news? Hiking trails near us are overwhelmed with people. While my extroverted hubby is fine hiking with crowds, I (the introvert) prefer to enjoy the majestic overviews without having to wait my turn because of all the people standing in front of me.
What’s going on here?
It’s as if a “great awakening” has happened. Overnight, it seems, everyone and their extended family, friends, and furry pets are suddenly into the outdoorsy lifestyle. I’m happy for them. Really. The world we live in is truly spectacular. It deserves to get more views – in person, not just posted on the internet. I’m thinking hubby and I may need to change things up a little if we want to hike in relative solitude.
Here are a few ideas we’re considering to hike without crowds
- Hike the trails that are farthest from populated areas. It makes sense that trails close to larger cities will attract more hikers. Use hiking apps to help you locate trails away from cities and suburbs. For example, use the AllTrails app or REI’s Hiking Project app. Both are free.
- Plan hikes earlier in the day. Peak hiking time seems to be early morning until noon, especially with the recent summer heat. We’re thinking we’ll get up at first light (before 5 a.m.) and hit the trails ahead of the pack. With an earlier start, we can be heading home just as the crowds arrive.
- Hike later in the day. There’s something magical about walking at dusk. Deer and other nocturnal animals begin to awake as other animals and birds call it a day. A good hike after an early dinner can help us sleep better, too. It stays lighter longer during the summer months and we’re planning to take advantage of that by hiking after the crowds go home.
- We may avoid large crowds if we set our sights on some longer trails. Many families with children understandably prefer shorter hikes. That means fewer people on the longer trails. If the trail is too long, we can always hike “by time.” For example, one hour in and one hour out. We simply turn around when we’ve reached our prearranged time. This same idea applies to more difficult trails, too. Not as many folks attempt the more challenging hikes, and this will work to our advantage. Again, we can always reverse course if needed.
- Toughen up! The heat and/or cold never seem to bother my hubby. He can hike in any kind of weather and enjoy it. I think we can avoid crowds by thinking like my hubby. The weatherman calls for rain. So what? We can pack along rain gear and hike anyway. Other hikers may be dissuaded by the forecast and we’ll experience fewer crowds. Colder weather at higher altitudes can also drive folks away. We can dress in layers to stay comfortable. We plan to use the free app Gaia GPS. It will provide information on trails, campsites, and even the weather forecast. (Note: Always be aware of the possibility of flash floods, wildfires, and other dangerous natural occurrences. Take necessary precautions to stay safe!)
- Forget amenities. Sure, it’s nice to have improved restrooms and on-site drinking water available. But think about it. These are perks that many other hikers demand. By hiking on trails that do not offer these creature comforts, we might avoid hiking on an overcrowded trail.
- Finally, hubby and I plan to ask hiking buddies about their favorite, more secluded trails. We can also check with Park Rangers to see which trails are less frequently used in nearby parks and preserves. By staying away from the most popular trails we may find the solitude we’re looking for. You can use the AllTrails app as we did and search for “trails less traveled.” You’ll receive a list of less-frequented trails.