How to Find Hiking Trails

How To Find Hiking Trails

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Are you excited about going hiking, but have no clue where to go? Whether you are looking for hiking trails near home or when you travel, I’ve got you covered. Sure, you can type “hiking near me” in your search bar, but I’ve got the scoop on the best free hiking apps and some other easy ways to find hiking trails for your next outdoor adventure.

Hiking Near Me

With the internet’s super secret way of tracking our every move, typing “hiking near me” will pull up several different websites that help you search for nearby trails. Search engines will also generate a few trail names based on your location.

Though this search method does work for finding hiking trails, it can also have you navigating several websites and apps that may not be the best source of trail information or be more time consuming than you want.

But this seems to be one of the best ways to find hikes with waterfalls. Articles covering waterfall hikes are common and an internet search for hiking trails with waterfalls will bring many up, as long as you are actually in an area that has waterfalls nearby.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can find my full disclosure here.

Best Free Hiking Trail Apps

Best hiking trail apps to find hiking trails

Free is always good, but sometimes you get what you pay for (or don’t pay for). Some free hiking apps offer paid versions and upgrades that provide more details and features.

And there are some hiking apps that are free and are loaded with trails and information. There are several hiking trail apps available, but I am going to spotlight a couple of my favorites.

The Hiking Project

Outdoor superstore REI’s Hiking Project one of the best, free, hiking trail apps. Browse the website or download the app for iOS and Android. It features over 55,000 trails covering approximately 188,000 miles.

You can easily search by state, city, or trail name. Use the search bar or check out the directory where hikes are categorized by state. You can add comments to the trail info and “check in” a trail and add your comments that way too.

Each trail has a map, general hike info like length and description, driving directions, a difficulty rating, photos, and more. It is pretty comprehensive! The cool thing about the Hiking Project is that it can be used offline too – a feature usually not available with free hiking apps.

The Hiking Project is crowd sourced, so hikes are added by hikers themselves. Once you set up your free account, you can add trails too.

The Hiking Project is completely free – no upsells or upgrades. REI also offers several other apps  – the Trail Run Project, the Mountain Project climbing resource, the MTB Project mountain bike trail maps, the Powder Project backcountry ski maps, and the National Park Guide.


AllTrails is another extremely popular hiking trail app with over 10 million users and 60,000+ trails.

After signing up for your free account, you can search for trails and filter by length, rating, and difficulty. Trail reviews, driving directions, maps, and photos are available.

The free version of AllTrails is a good hiking trail app. A Pro upgrade is available for $29.99 a year with more features like more map layers and the ability to download maps for offline use. Although tons of people use the free version, many say the upgrade is worth the minimal cost.

Websites to Find Hiking Trails

Some of these websites have mobile apps, but they are not necessarily known as a resource for finding hiking trails. I love reading about, researching, and planning outdoor adventures, so I personally don’t mind the time involved exploring websites.

RootsRated to Find Hiking Trails

RootsRated is a media outlet dedicated to connecting readers to outdoor experiences which includes hiking. It is not a hub of crowd sourced reviews, but rather a collection of activities and trails submitted by local outdoor experts.

Select HIKING (you can also search for other outdoor adventures) in the search box, choose your location and begin your search. Keep in mind, RootsRated is fairly new, and they are actively adding new cities, locations, and trails.

TripAdvisor to Find Hiking Trails

TripAdvisor is more than just hotel reviews and bookings! You can search for your destination and usually find good information and hiking trails. Forums with multiple topics have even been created for popular destinations.

Hiking trails are often listed as ‘Things to Do’ if the destination is known for outdoor activities. If you take the time to read reviews you can discover some hidden gems not listed on common trail apps or destination websites.

[alert color = “green”] Tip: You can also get the scoop on local restaurants that will be the perfect end to your hiking adventure![/alert]

Facebook to Find Hiking Trails

Facebook groups are a goldmine for hiking trail information. Group members post trail info and pictures, plus you can ask questions about the trail or ask for hiking trail recommendations.

Just start searching for hiking groups – some large, general hiking groups will surely have members that can provide info on hiking trails for the area you researching, and there are many hiking groups that are specific to a certain area. I suggest joining both kinds!

Facebook will also start noticing your search history and activity and even recommend groups to you.

Pinterest to Find Hiking Trails

Pinterest is more than just a visual search engine for home décor and recipes. Many websites and blogs (like mine!)  PIN articles and posts to help you find outdoor adventures.

If you are new to Pinterest, it is so easy to use. Just search for hiking trails and voila -the page will load with cool Pins leading to articles covering hiking trails. Once you create a free account, you can create Boards like Hiking Trails to save your favorite Pins to.

It is a great way to find hiking trails and tips and find some awesome blogs and websites that you never had a clue existed!

Be sure to follow Embracing the Wind on Pinterest!Follow embracingthewind on pinterest

Find Dog Friendly Hiking Trails

Many hikers love having their canine sidekick with them on the trail. But not all trails allow dogs, so it is important to do your research.

The Hiking Project will note, if known, whether or not a trail allows dogs. You can also search for dog friendly trails on the AllTrails app.

Bring Fido is a website dedicated to locating places where you can bring your dog. You can search hiking trails and users can submit trail info and photos along with ratings. The site also lists dog friendly campgrounds.

Hike With Your Dog is a website dedicated to hiking with dogs. It is filled with articles, trails, and offers guide books. They even have a Facebook group Hiking with Dogs that has over 26,000 members!

Other Sources to Find Hiking Trails

People have been finding hiking trails long before the internet. The internet has just made it easier. Even so, we can’t forget some tried and true sources of hiking trails, and many of these sources have websites too.

National Forests

National Forests are home to over 150,000 miles of trails. I believe national forests are sometimes overlooked as a wonderful hiking destination, especially when compared to the national parks.

Ranger stations have tons of maps and trail information. To really find out about forest trails near you, consider volunteering with the forest service on their volunteer trail crews.

The US Forest Service website has links to forests, their hiking areas, and trail maps.

Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Camping in National Forests

National Park Service

Are you planning a trip to one of the National Parks? Hiking is a popular activity at many national parks. The national park websites often list trails and have online maps that can be downloaded.

Many park visitor centers have maps, trail brochures, and trail guides. Park rangers are a valuable source of trail information too.

Laurel Falls trail

There are also many Facebook groups dedicated to hiking in specific national parks.

State Parks

We can’t overlook state parks for some great hiking trails. Most state parks have a visitor’s center with maps and trail information.

Many state parks offer ranger guided hikes. These hikes are great if you are new to hiking, want to hike with a group, or just want more details about the hike.

Check out state park websites and Facebook pages for more details about hikes offered in the parks.

Hiking Books and Trail Guides

I am a book lover and enjoy reading hiking books and trail guides.  Good trail guides will have some of the same info as a hiking app – directions, trail info, and personal experiences on the trail.

Trail guides can be found for waterfall hikes, national parks, kid friendly hikes, bucket list hikes, and hiking trails in different states.

Are you interested in hiking some “famous” trails?  Books dedicated to hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and the John Muir Trail can be very informative and entertaining.

Falcon Guides publish popular guides for numerous trails, states, and landmarks.

Outdoor Retailers

Outdoor shop owners and employees are often experts on local hiking trails. Many are hikers themselves and know the area trails like the back of their hand. If they aren’t hikers, they usually have talked about local hikes with their customers enough to be familiar with hiking trails nearby.

You can find out about some new hikes while you pick up some hiking gear, backpacking meals, or a hiking trail guidebook.

How Do You Find Hiking Trails?

So, how do you find hiking trails? Do you have a favorite hiking app not listed in my post? What about a trail guidebook that is your go to for hikes that you love? Let me know about them, and I hope you find some new hiking trails!

Would you do me a favor? Please PIN this on Pinterest and help others find hiking trails!

Want to go hike but don't have a clue where to go? Don't miss this post on how to find hiking trails with the best hiking apps, websites, and other sources.

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