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How to Pick the Right Hiking Trail

Hikers enjoy venturing off the beaten track for the serenity and fresh mountain air. There is always an adventure beyond the next hill, valley, plateau or mountain. For the best experience, you should always pick the right hiking trail. We’ve got some amazing guidelines on how to do this.

Consider the level of hiking difficulty

This is the fundamental characteristic to consider when picking a hiking trail. Difficulty is a general classification of hiking trails. It considers elements such as terrain, distance and elevation.

An easy hiking trail has little elevation and a well-maintained surface. A moderately difficult trail has a steady ascent with some obstacles along the way. A highly difficult hiking trail is long and steep. It also has numerous obstacles along its route such as rocks, roots, debris and slides. Pick a hiking trail whose difficulty you can manage.

The class rating

Hiking trails around the world are rated according to the Yosemite Decimal System. It categorizes trails from Class 1 to Class 5.

Classes 1 and 2 hiking trails are easy to complete because they require only basic equipment to navigate. Class 3 trails require ropes and harnesses for safety and balance. Class 4 hiking trails contain vertical sections that call for professional rock climbing knowledge. Class 5 hiking trails cover mountainous regions and have high levels of risk and technicality. As you browse through hiking trails, rate them and pick that which you’re comfortable with.

Distance covered

The length of a hiking trail is a distinguishing characteristic. Short trails are great for time-strained, leisurely hikes at a speed of 1 to 2 mph. Moderately long hiking trails are for experienced hikers ready to dedicate an entire day to cover the distance. Long hiking trails are for advanced hikers capable of walking at 2 to 3mph with experience in camping.

The elevation gain

Are you interested in a high altitude hiking trail? In this case, it is important to consider the elevation gain. Add an hour for every 2000 feet gained. Also, remember that a high altitude hiking trail will take more time to complete because of the impact of elevation on your body and the rocky terrain. Thus, take note of the elevation gain and the extra hours you can expect to add to your hike.

Grade or steepness

Steepness can be described as the amount of elevation gain over a specific distance. The grade can be calculated by dividing the horizontal distance by the vertical one at any point on the hike. For example, a hiking trail that rises 2000ft over 2 miles is steeper than one that ascends 1000ft over a length of 5 miles. A low-grade hiking trail is great for beginners. Higher levels of steepness call for more experienced hikers.

Your level of fitness

Your level of personal fitness is instrumental in the hiking trail you pick. If you have average fitness levels, a Class 1 hiking trail is advisable. If you have above-average fitness, you can tackle a Class 2 or 3 hiking trail. Higher levels of fitness can be matched up with Class 4 and 5 hiking trails.

If you want to conquer a Class 4 or 5 trail but you have average fitness levels, do not worry. You can always take time to prepare yourself for the hike. Improve your protein intake and perform strength training drills in the gym. Remember to include cardiovascular training because Class 4 and 5 trails will knock the wind out of your chest!

We always insist that you should never overestimate yourself when picking a hiking trail. Go with what feels most comfortable for you.

The scenery

This is the best part of any hike. The flora and fauna help you to enjoy every minute! Scenery is a matter of personal choice. Pick the scenery that will prove most memorable. Remember, it should look beautiful so that you can take great photographs!

Summary

Hiking is fun and healthy. It helps you to relax and challenges your physical fitness. To experience the best combination of these factors, pick the right hiking trail. Our guidelines above can help you to achieve this objective. Happy hiking!

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