Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why you need a map when day hiking with children

A paper map, especially a topographical map, is vital when day hiking.
Without navigational tools such as a paper map or GPS, you can easily become disoriented, miss a turn and get lost. Many trails – even short loops – have branching and adjoining trails.

A map that gives you a sense of what is around you can help you better pinpoint your location. Sometimes you have to unexpectedly go off the main trail – it could be a trail closure, animal encounter, sudden change in the weather for the worse, or an injury that requires shortening the trip. A map also can help you better appreciate where you are by pointing out the names of geographic features you pass or see on the horizon.

Paper maps may sound passé in this age of GPS, but you’ll find the variety and breadth of view they offer to be useful. During the planning process, a paper map (even if viewing it online), will be far superior to a GPS device. On the hike, you’ll also want a backup to GPS. Or like many casual hikers, you may not own GPS at all, which makes paper maps indispensable.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.