This one may seem like a no-brainer, but seeking out new trails is sometimes easier said than done

Finding new trails is a wonderful feeling. 

While it’s easy to get caught up hiking, running or biking the same, familiar trails over and over again, there is something to be said about discovering new paths.

New terrain equates to new experiences chock full of unique flora and fauna, excellent views and good times. Whether you’re new to a location or exploring an area while traveling, here are four ways you can add a little variety to your trail routine. 

trail runner
Your feet will thank you for a change in terrain.Terrance Siemon
Do Your Research Ahead of Time

If you’re on a road trip traveling through some amazing places, wishing you knew of a good spot to stop and stretch your legs, then it’s important to research ahead of time.

There is a ton of information available about trails. But in order to guarantee that you don’t miss them while traveling, you will need to know the route you are traveling and what you are looking for along the way. Are you looking for popular pull-offs? Do you prefer the off-the-beaten-path places? Or maybe you need something dog friendly? You’ll have much more success if your route is planned prior to your departure.

Important things to consider include the weather, what time of day you prefer to hit the trails and how far off the main road you are willing to detour in order to get to the trails.

weminuche wilderness sign
The Weminuche and other wilderness areas are full of trails to explore.Tiona Eversole
Use Social Media or Other Online Tools

If you’re new to an area, social media platforms such as Instagram are an excellent way to connect with individuals in the community that enjoy the same activities as you. Don’t be afraid to reach out or follow someone that appears to have similar interests. Plus, you might end up making a new friend, which will make it easier to discover new places and explore the area.

And in today’s day and age, your phone works great for finding new trails by simply downloading apps that correspond to your outdoor interests. We’re a fan of REI’s route apps (Hiking Project, Mountain Bike Project, Mountain Project, Trail Run Project) for finding new trails. You can also download other apps to use on the trail for Identifying peaks, discovering constellations, learning about plants and much more. We’ve put a short list together of our favorite apps

Just be careful not to rely entirely on your phone while out on the trail. Malfunctions are always possible. You may lose service while out on the trail, or your phone could die. Always prepare for the worst and have a backup plan. We recommend a guidebook.

Pick Up a Guidebook

Guidebooks are an excellent way to explore a specific area while also receiving more in-depth information. Many guidebooks will not only help you find new trails, they also provide directions to the trailheads, fun facts about the area and points of interest. 

Take a little time to flip through the guidebook prior to purchasing and make sure that this is the right book for you. If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to ask questions. You may have simply missed a better option while perusing.

utah canyon hike
Some of the best spots are discovered easier by asking the locals.Terrance Siemon
Ask the Locals

Stop by the local gear shop and ask a few of the employees about their favorite local trails. Let them know what kind of terrain you are interested in, your experience level and preferred distance. The more you share with them, the better recommendations you will receive in return.

If they’re not entirely sure on which direction to point you, there’s a good chance they will know a local resource that can direct you — whether it’s a tourism office or BLM office.

ice lake wildflower
Ice Lake in Southwest Colorado attracts hikers to its trails for the epic mountain views and glacial blue waters. Unknowingly, many attempt the hike and are not prepared for the nearly 2,500 feet of elevation gain to the lake.Terrance Siemon
And When You Finally Choose a Trail…

Just like a recipe, you should read the entire trail or route description before attempting a new trail. This will ensure that you are fully aware of what you’re in for. Being equipped with this little bit of knowledge will prepare you for that one technical section or that “1,500-feet of elevation gain in one mile” climb. Knowledge is power, and with it you will start your hike, ride or climb with increased confidence.

If you’re heading into the high country soon, we’ve got several tips to keep you safe.