Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day hiking trails often described by their shape

Out-and-back trail
If you’re new to hiking, you’ve probably heard a number of seemingly odd terms – such as lollipop, stem and spur – describing trails. This jargon essentially describes the shape of the trail.

There are four general shapes for day hiking trails:
g Out-and-back – This trail heads to a specific destination but then has to be backtracked to the starting point. This sometimes is called an in-and-out trail.
g Loop – Such a trail is circular, meaning that its start point also is its end point. A variation of this is the stacked loop, in which several loops share sides, allowing you to extend the distance of any loop by simply adding the next one in the set.
g Lollipop – When a loop sits at the end of an out-and-back trail, it looks like a sucker. The out-and-back portion of the trail is called a stem, as you don’t turn around upon reaching the trial junction (s you would on an out-and-back trail) but continue on the loop.
g Point-to-point – This is like an out-and-back trail, except it’s so long one-way that you couldn’t day hike it back to its starting point. Instead, you’ll need someone to pick you up at the end point.

Two other trails often referred to in hiking guides are the spur and the connector (aka connecting) trail. Both of these are short trails. The spur runs off the main trail, usually to an interesting feature, and then dead ends. The connector links two major trails, offering access to either shorten or lengthen a hike.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.