Thursday, June 27, 2013

Knowing type of trail you’re day hiking can prove beneficial

Knowing the kind of trail you'll be day hiking can help
prevent you from getting lost.
When day hiking, knowing the shape of the trail’s route can prove helpful. First, it can keep you from getting lost, because you have a general understanding of which way you should go. Secondly, it’ll affect how you plan your trip, as you may need to be picked up at your destination, change how you estimate your mileage, or consider different ways of keeping children entertained.

There are four general types of trails you’ll encounter:
g Out and back – This involves walking from the trailhead to a specific destination (such as a waterfall or a vista) and then taking the exact same route back. If such a trail is a mile long, typically this means it’s two miles round trip.
g Loop – The trailhead starts at a point that generally is circular; when you’ve completed the trail, you’ll arrive back at the trailhead. Children typically prefer this route as none of the scenery is repeated.
g Lollipop – The trailhead starts at a straight-line trail that connects to a loop trail. Once you’ve completed the loop, you have to take the “stem” trail back to the trailhead.
g Shuttle – This out-and-back trail is too long to be day hiked. To tackle it, you start at point A (your trailhead) and have a vehicle pick you up at point B (your destination).

Of course, sometimes these different types of trails appear in various combinations. For example, you may start on what is an out-and-back trail but then at a junction take the curve portion of a loop trail that forms a “D,” with the straight section being the original out-and-back trail. Or you might take several spurs – which really are just short out-and-back trails – off a loop or a shuttle trail, so that you may see interesting sites or great vistas.

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