There are a few instances where a trekking pole is unnecessary and might best left at home.
Any flat, wide, short paved trail that you take without wearing a backpack probably doesn’t require a trekking pole if you’re at least in moderately good shape. Striking the trekking pole against asphalt and cement actually can do more harm to your wrist as the pole’s tip can’t penetrate the pavement, creating shock. If you do wear a lightly loaded backpack on such trails, a trekking pole still probably can be dispensed with so long as the distance is under a mile.
A number of day hiking trails at state, county and even national parks fit the description of a “flat, wide, short paved trail,” as they are designed for people to make brief jaunts from their vehicles to some interesting natural feature.
The more elevation gains, the less packed the surface, the longer the distance (especially over a mile), and the heavier your backpack load, however, and the benefits of using a trekking pole far outweigh the inconvenience of having one of you’re your hands occupied by carrying it.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.