Hiking Sitemap - Page 1 2016-09-26

The Basics
From planning a hike to the basic skills you'll need on the trail -- get everything you need to get started hiking right here.

Trail Etiquette
Who has the right of way on the trail? Do I really have to keep my dog on a leash? What if I have to go to the bathroom? Get the answers to these, and more, questions about hiking etiquette.

Traveling to Hike
Whether you're vacationing to hike or just want to take a stroll in the woods while you're away from home, here's what you need to know about hiking on the road.

Hiking Checklists and Packing Lists
Wondering what you should pack for that dayhike or overnighter? Here's a collection of hiking checklists, and printable packing lists, to help you organize your gear.

Handling Bodily Functions
We all urinate; we all defecate; and about half of us menstruate. Here's how to handle all of the above when outdoors.

Can I Pee in a Bottle If I'm Stuck in a Tent?
Peeing in a bottle might come naturally to guys, but don't worry -- women can do it too. Here's how to handle doing it when you don't want to (or can't).

Hiking Gear - What You Can and Can't Bring on a Plane
If your commute to the trailhead involves a plane, you're officially hardcore. Here's how not to lose your hiking gear to airport security.

11 Places to Score Inexpensive Hiking Gear
Quality hiking gear can cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't have to. Here are some of the best places (in-person and online) to check for cheap gear year-round.

11 Fun Activities for Hikers
Hiking is often about more than getting from point A to point B. Here are some ideas for keeping yourself entertained when you are on the hiking trail.

The Beginner Hiker: What You Need
No matter what kind of hiker you are -- obsessive overpacker or ultralight -- you won't get far without these four essentials.

Gear Reviews
A collection of candid, thorough reviews of hiking gear and clothing.

Buying Guides
A collection of buying guides to help you get the right hiking gear, clothing and accessories.

Gift Ideas for the Picky Hiker
A collection of gift ideas for hikers. We've got something for every budget, from affordable stocking stuffers to the highest-end gear for when money is no object.

Hiking Gear
The proper boots, socks, clothing, outerwear, and hiking gear can make the difference between a comfortable outing or a miserable slog. This hiking gear guide will help you find exactly what you need.

Where to Score Great Deals
Hiking gear can be expensive! Learn where (and how) to score the best deals.

Gear Checklists
Not sure what to pack? Get printable checklists for every type of hiking trip.

Gear Tips and Tweaks
Learn how to get the most out of your hiking and backpacking gear.

The 10 Best Tents to Buy in 2016 for Hiking and Camping
Buy the best tents for families, hiking, expeditions and more from top companies such as Mountain Hardwear, Coleman, The North Face and more.

4 Best Ice Grippers for Winter Hikers
Of all the ice grippers I've tested over the years, these stand out as the best for hiking.

Hiking With Smartphones
From help in emergencies to apps that track hiking activity, smartphones are versatile tools for the trail. Here's a quick look at few uses for your phone, as well as some safety tips to keep in mind.

Point Lobos
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve may be the single most beautiful spot along the entire 1,100-mile California coast. An extensive hiking trail network leads through its forests and along a rocky shoreline that's home to sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions.

What Should I Pack for My First Dayhike?
These are the essentials you should always have in your pack, even on short day hikes (and the start of a packing list for long hikes or overnight trips).

How Long Should My Hiking Poles Be?
Do this quick, simple test anywhere -- in the store or on the trail -- to figure out if your trekking poles are the right size.

All About Hiking Boots
Wondering how to pick the perfect pair of hiking boots? Here's a look at how to pick them and get the most out of them, plus candid reviews of hiking footwear -- from minimalist hiking shoes to heavy boots.

Search for Trails
Search for trails with these helpful sites. You can find hikes both locally and around the country with tools that let you search for trails by state, zip code, or park name.

Wildlife Safety Tips
Prepare yourself for possible animal encounters while hiking with these wildlife safety tips. You'll feel safer knowing what to do if you come upon such animals as snakes, bears, and mountain lions with a few simple wildlife safety tips.

2013 Finalists
A compilation of specs and descriptions for each finalist for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award. About Hiking fielded ten categories in all, with five finalists in each category save one (which had four finalists).

2013 Nomination Forms
A collection of nomination forms for the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards. Strictly for reference -- nominations are now closed!

Best Trails by State
You can find some of the country's most outstanding hiking on trails in state and local parks. Many of these hikes are less crowded than routes in national parks and offer scenery and experiences that rival landscapes in better-known destinations. Take a look at these suggestions for the best state park trails, as well as hikes in local parks near major cities.

Top Trails in National Parks
Here's your guide to the top trails in national parks around the country. You'll get recommendations on the best trails in national parks from Maine to Hawaii. Everyone from beginners to experts will find tips on day hikes that lead into the country's most gorgeous and dramatic landscapes.

Health Benefits of Hiking
The health benefits of hiking are many and varied. Hiking helps you stay in shape and lose weight. Hiking delivers benefits for both body and mind as you burn calories and reduce stress. Learn about the health benefits of hiking and how to prevent and cope with injuries.

Hiking safety means planning ahead and being aware of possible dangers on the trail. Changing weather, wildlife encounters, and injuries can turn a great day of hiking into a sudden emergency. The odds are that you won't face any serious problems. But educate yourself about hiking safety with these tips.

National Forests & Reserves
Vast areas of the country are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other agencies. These national forests and reserves offer extensive hiking opportunities that explore a diverse range of landscapes, including desert areas, sequoia groves, and coastal wetlands.

How to Handle Different Weather Conditions
No, you don't have any control over the weather. But you can be more prepared by familiarizing yourself with how to handle different weather conditions while hiking.

A glossary of common terms you might encounter while hiking and backpacking, or while shopping for hiking and backpacking gear.

Reader's Choice Awards
Want a second, third, or fourth opinion about the best gear? Readers nominate and vote for their favorite hiking and backpacking gear, and their favorite trails, in the About.com Reader's Choice awards.

Hiking Q&A
Your questions about hiking -- answered! With Lisa Maloney, About.com's Guide to Hiking.

Hiking Clothing
From hiking pants to socks and jackets, get candid, hands-on reviews of all types of hiking clothing.

Finalists for Best Mobile Hiking App - 2013
A description of each finalist in the running for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award.

What to Do if You Get Lost While Hiking
Basic safety measures can help prevent hikers from getting lost on the trail. But knowing what to do if you get lost will reduce your chances of making mistakes that worsen the situation.

What Does Thru-Hiking Mean?
Do you want to be a through-hiker? Here's what that means, and a list of some of the best places to do it in the United States.

The Ten Essentials for Hikers
A visual slideshow of the ten essentials, plus discussion on what gear actually satisfies each essential need.

You Won't Last Long Without Water
Water is usually one of your most urgent survival needs. A filter, purifier or water treatment tablets lets you safely use outside water sources.

Shelter Against the Elements -- Just in Case
When things go bad, they go really bad -- so be prepared to shelter yourself against the elements if necessary.

Your Brain is the Most Important Survival Tool of All
The most important survival tool of all is your brain.

Map and Compass
When fog or a snowstorm rolls in, or all the hills start to look alike, a map and compass may be your only way home.

Sunglasses, Sunblock and Clothing
You can't beat the sun, so protect yourself with sunglasses, sunblock and appropriate clothing.

Clothing Is Weather Protection and Insulation
Think of your clothing layers as mobile insulation against the elements.

A Hands-Free Light Source
Always have a headlamp along, just in case you end up hiking back in the dark.

Carry the Basics of First aid
Carry basic first aid supplies, and keep in mind that everything in your pack, on your person and in the environment around you can be used to improvise.

Fire Gives Light, Warmth and a Big Psychological Boost
Stack the survival odds in your favor by having a waterproof firestarter and kindling ready to do.

Duct Tape for the Win!
Every hiker should carry a knife and duct tape, but you may need a few other repair supplies too.

Food is Fuel for Your Body
Food is an immense source of comfort, plus energy and body heat, in a wilderness emergency. It's also good for taming cranky hiking buddies.

Five Reasons Why You Should Go Hiking
It's easy, stimulating, and good for you too: Hiking is a sport with all sorts of benefits for both body and mind. Inspire yourself to make it a part of your fitness routine with these five reasons you should go hiking.

2013 RCA: Finalists for Best Backpacking Stove
A look at vital specs on each of the finalists for

Two Easy-to-Use Hiking Apps
It's a great idea to maintain a hiking log and now smartphone apps make it simple to keep track of treks and trails.

Trailguru and MapMyHIKE Review - Advantages and Disadvantages
It's a great idea to maintain a hiking log and now smartphone apps make it simple to keep track of treks and trails. Page 2.

2012 Budget Gift Guide for Hikers
I have to admit that some of the items on my 2012 gift guide for hikers are beyond my means. That's why they call it a

The Best Books for Hikers
From the perfect hiking tales to enjoy on rainy days, to the single book you've allowed yourself during a backpacking trip, to how-to books that'll teach you basic (or advanced) tactics on the trail, here's my list of the best hiking-related books.

2012 Hiking Gift Guide: $100 and Under
Are you wondering what to buy your favorite hiker or backpacker? This guide has you covered, with items that cost from $20 to $100.


How to Poop While Hiking
Spend enough time outdoors and, eventually, you'll have to defecate while out on the trail. Here's how to do so politely.

Why Shouldn't I Wear Cotton While Hiking?
Under the wrong circumstances, wearing cotton can leave you uncomfortable or even hypothermic. Here's why, and what you should wear instead.

6 Backpacker-Friendly Alternatives to Sleeping Bags
Not a fan of conventional sleeping bags? These six backpacker-friendly alternatives will keep you warm at night without leaving you feeling claustrophobic.

Backpacking Tents and Shelters
From the basics of tent anatomy and how to get a good pitch to tent reviews, learn how to give yourself the best shelter possible while on the trail.

Trail Skills and Wilderness Survival
From getting your boots laced just right to surviving an unexpected emergency, this page contains links to all the skills you can learn from About Hiking.

Hiking Gear Reviews and Guides
A collection of frank, thorough gear reviews and buying guides from experienced (and picky!) hikers.

Hiking Basics and Beyond - Everything You Need to Get Started
Start here if you're new to hiking or want to review the basics. We cover everything from why you should go hiking in the first place to packing a backpack, pitching a tent and dealing with wild animals.

Get the gear and master the skills you need for backpacking or overnight hikes.

Things That Do (and Don't) Attract Bears
Learn which items are most likely to attract a bear into your backcountry camp.

Tents That Pitch From the Outside
These three tent manufacturers make tents that pitch from the outside. That means the inside of the tent stays bone dry, even in a nasty downpour.

GRAYL: A Truly Unique Water Filter
The GRAYL French press water filter might not be right for backpacking, but it's tops for dayhikes where water is within easy reach.

About Hiking: Expert advice, gear reviews and hacks
We cover everything you need to know about hiking, from how to dress and what to carry to where to go and how to handle unexpected emergencies..

Texting Walkie Talkie
GoTenna turns your smartphone into a texting walkie talkie, even when cellular service is not available.

Navigate Anywhere You Please
It's no secret -- smartphones have turned into a truly useful tool for navigating, even when cell signal is not available.

Turn Your Smartphone Into a Wind Meter
The Vaavud anemometer turns your smartphone into a surprisingly accurate wind meter.

Teach You Survival Skills
Some smartphone apps turn your smartphone into a tutor for wilderness survival.

Use Your Smartphone to Track the Weather
Use your smartphone to tap into satellite imagery and weather stations around the world.

Download the Geocaching app, and your smartphone can turn almost any hike into a treasure hunt.

Track Your Performance
If you're the competitive type, smartphone apps can track how far, fast and often you've hiked -- and of course how much elevation you've gained, too.

Thermal Imaging
The Seek smartphone camera turns your Android or iOS device into a thermal imaging camera -- very useful for spotting animals in the dark.

3 Ways to Keep Your Electronics Charged While Hiking
Portable electronics are great -- until they run down in the middle of nowhere! Here are three ways to keep them charged, even in the backcountry.

The Best Hiking Pants for Women With Hips
If you have wide hips like me, check out these two hiking pants that will give you a gap-free fit at the waist.

A Review of the REI Flash 58 Backpack
A backpacker's review of the ultralight Flash 58 pack from REI. It's light and flexible in all the best ways.

3 Questions to Make Your Pack Lighter
Tired of hauling a heavy pack on all your hikes? Use these three questions to lighten your load.

6 Ways a Garbage Bag Can Save Your Life
Six ways garbage bags can save your life, or at least make you more comfortable, during a hiking emergency.

Flash Flood Safety for Hikers
Flash floods are fast and dangerous, and they can happen anywhere, at any time -- although they're most common in dry lands that are quickly inundated by water.

Boot and Shoe Reviews
Candid, thorough reviews of hiking footwear; everything from light, minimalist hiking shoes to heavy-duty boots.

From collapsible water bottles to water filters and pressurized water bladders, you have many options for staying healthy and hydrated on the trail. Find out more about them here.

How to Try On Hiking Boots and Shoes
The very best hiking boots or shoes are the ones that fit you perfectly. No need to wait for Prince (or Princess) Charming to show up with a glass slipper -- I'll show you how to test your hiking shoes and boots for the right fit, right now.

What to do if you get lost on a hike
Getting lost on a hike is scary, but preventable. Here's what you can do beforehand to prepare for the possibility, and how to handle it once you realize you're lost.

- By Category
An index of categories in the

Scenic Trails
From fields of wildflowers to dramatic waterfalls, here's where to find the best scenic views from a hiking trail.

Hiking Trails
Use this guide to find the best hiking trails, plus information on where to look for other trails not listed here.

Get the Lowdown on the Hottest Hiking Destinations
Find out what to expect on popular hiking trails around the nation.

It'll Make Your Butt Look Great
Reason #4 to hike in Alaska: Hiking up all those mountains will give you buns of steel in no time!

(Almost) No Crowds
Reason #5 why Alaska is the best place to hike: It's super-easy to get away from the crowds.

Alaskans Tend to Be Happy (and Helpful)
Reason #6 why Alaska is a great place to hike: Everyone's happy to be here, and almost everybody will help you out of a pinch.

Alaska Still Has Lots of Water
Another great thing about hiking in Alaska: We have plentiful water sources that remain deliciously cool, even on hot summer days.

We Have Lots of Wildlife
Yes, Alaska has lots of bears and moose -- but that's just the start of the amazing wildlife you can see here.

You Might See the Northern Lights
Reason #9 you must go hiking in Alaska: You might just see the northern lights dancing above you.

9 Reasons You Must Go Hiking in Alaska
Reason #1 that Alaska is tops for hiking: There aren't many places where you can hike just a few miles and get views like this.

No Snakes or Ticks!
Reason #2 why Alaska is a great place to hike: No native snakes, ticks, scorpions, fleas, skunks...

Your Chocolate (Usually) Won't Melt
Reason #3 why hiking in Alaska is the best: Your chocolate won't melt (until you eat it). Trust me, folks -- this one matters!

Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away
Learn about mosquito-borne illnesses, and the first of several tricks to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Hike High and Dry
If all else fails, take your mosquito-season hikes to higher, drier elevations.

Mosquito Netting
Head nets and netting suits provide a physical barrier against mosquitoes.

Stop Wearing Black
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors; changing your hiking wardrobe can help you avoid bites.

Eat Garlic
True mosquito defense or old wives tail? I haven't had much using garlic to keep mosquitoes at bay, but many hikers swear by this technique.

Ditch the Hair Gel
Certain brands of hair gel, and maybe other cosmetics, can attract mosquitoes -- leave them at home to reduce your risk of getting bitten.

Bugproof Clothing
Bugproof clothing -- usually treated with the insect repellent permethrin -- gets you pretty close to full-body protection against insects.

Take a Shower; Do Laundry
Keeping a clean body and clothing makes it harder for mosquitoes to find you.

Take It Easy
Physical exertion can make you more attractive to mosquitoes, as they zero in on your body heat, carbon dioxide and the other byproducts of exercise.

Stay Sober
Although scientists don't understand exactly why, drinking beer can attract mosquitoes to you.

A Ten Essentials Checklist for Hikers
Did you pack the ten essentials? Here's a quick checklist to help you make sure.

Put on Dry Socks
Something as simple as an extra pair of dry socks can stop blisters in their tracks.

Add a Liner Sock
If your boots fit but you're still struggling with blisters, using a liner sock might help.

Preventative Moleskin
Moleskin and molefoam aren't just for treating blisters -- you can also use them for preventing blisters from forming in the first place.

Duct Tape
If you don't have any other supplies, improvise a blister shield from duct tape.

Use a Lubricant
If all other measures have failed, a lubricant can help prevent blisters from forming -- especially between your toes.

Log Some Miles
If you've done everything else and your feel still blister, they might just need some time to toughen up.

Wear Boots That Fit
Wearing boots that actually fit is the number one way to prevent blisters.

How to Keep a Waterproof Zipper from Sticking
If a waterproof zipper seems

Cold Ears
Cold ears? Stick handwarmers in your hat.

Find Your Bear Canister in the Dark
If you're worried about being able to find your bear canister in the dark, mark it with reflective tape.

Protect Blisters Without Moleskin
No moleskin? Use duct tape to protect your blisters instead.

Working Too Hard to Blow Up a Sleeping Pad
Use your finger to keep the air from rushing right back out of an inflatable sleeping pad.

Attaching Hiking Poles to Smaller Packs
On some smaller packs, the side compression straps are an easy way of carrying your trekking poles when you don't need them.

Carry Hiking Poles Across the Top of Your Pack
Smaller packs make it easy to strap hiking poles in place across the top.

How to Attach Hiking Poles to Your Backpack
Hiking poles sure come in handy -- until you don't need them anymore, at which point they become a big nuisance. Here's how to attach them to your backpack so you can go back to hiking hands-free.

The Standard Way of Securing Hiking Poles
Here's the most common way of attaching trekking poles to your backpack -- click through for more tricks you can use.

Store Trekking Poles in Your Pack's Side Pocket
No trekking pole attachment points? Roomy side pockets or side compression straps make an easy alternative.

7 Tasty No-Stove Trail Meals
No stove? No problem! These 7 no-cook trail meals will keep you well-fed on any hike or backpacking excursion.

Knowing When to Stay Put
Having the presence of mind to stay put, stay calm and take stock of the situation is one of the most important survival skills.

Building a Fire
Knowing how to build a fire can be the difference between life and death in a wilderness emergency.

Filing a Trip Plan
Filing a trip plan might seem tedious, but it's one of the very best things you can do to save your life in case of an emergency.

Basic First Aid
Basic first aid is one of the most important skills you can take with you on the trail.

Carrying an Emergency Kit
Carrying a small, light emergency kit ensures that you'll have everything you need should disaster ever strike.

6 Things That Could Save Your Life on Your Next Hike
Learn six essential tricks that might just save your life on your next hike.

Knowing How to Signal for Help
There's a lot you can do to make yourself more visible to rescuers. Find out how to help yourself be found -- and rescued -- more quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bear Spray
Answers to the most frequently asked questions about bear spray, including how to use it and store it, and whether the expiration date matters.

The Bear Protocol: A Checklist for Backcountry Bear Safety
A checklist of things you can do to reduce your risk of a bear encounter and feel more confident when hiking or backpacking in bear country.

Hiking Accessories
Sometimes it's the little things that make a hike great. Get reviews on hiking accessories from baby wipes to folding shovels.

Backpack Reviews
A backpacker reviews packs for comfort, carry capacity and features.

Headlamp Reviews
Get reviews of the best headlamps for hiking and backpacking.

Ice Grippers
Learn which ice grippers are the safest in steep, slippery terrain, plus which crossover models offer good trail stability without being overkill in town.

Natural Insect Repellents That Actually Work
Natural insect repellents that actually work, plus the ultimate insect defense system.

The 4 Best Light Hiking Shoes
My picks for the best light hiking shoes, based on extensive hands-on -- okay, feet-on -- testing.

What's a Rainfly?
A rainfly is the waterproof layer between your tent and the world.

A Review of the BearVault BV450 Solo Bearproof Canister
Find out how the BearVault BV450 Solo bearproof canister performs in real-world conditions.

What is Slackpacking?
Are you a backpacker or a slackpacker? Here's the difference between the two.

Moose and Other Giant Ungulates -- Safety Advice for Hikers
Moose and other giant ungulates can be just as dangerous as carnivorous animals. Find out how to avoid moose encounters, and handle them when they happen.

Wild Animal Safety for Hikers
Learn how to deal with common wild animals you may encounter while hiking in your area.

Bear Safety While Hiking
Get an overview of how to prevent and handle bear encounters, plus links to further information.

Snake Safety for Hikers
Learn how to avoid snake encounters while hiking, and what to do if you run into a snake anyway.

Mountain Lion Safety for Hikers
Learn how to safely avoid -- or handle -- encounters with mountain lions while hiking.

Porcupine Safety for Hikers
Porcupines generally are not aggressive, but they will defend themselves against perceived threats.

The Best Backpacking Packs
My picks for the three best backpacking packs, plus the winner of our most recent Reader's Choice poll for best large pack.

The GRAYL Water Filter
The versatile, innovative GRAYL water filter works like a French press -- and it was funded by a successful IndieGoGo campaign.

United By Blue Bison Down Socks
United By Blue's

GoTenna for Backcountry Communication
GoTenna turns your smartphone into the equivalent of a texting walkie talkie; it was successfully crowdfunded with a

FNO Integrated Camping Blanket
The crowdfunded Father Nature Outdoors integrated camping blanket makes quilt camping affordable -- and accessible -- for everybody.

Meet the Aquabot

Take a Ride on the High Roller
The High Roller might not be made for hiking, but it's too cool to exclude. I dare you not to enjoy drag-racing on this adult-sized trike!

Hiking Tips
From how to lace your boots properly to tackling steep, exposed slopes, these tips will help you feel confident and secure in almost any circumstances you might encounter on the trail.

A Review of the Osprey Exos 38 Pack

4 Things to Know About Night Hikes - Be Prepared
Hiking at night makes even the most familiar of trails exciting and new again. It's also a chance to see (or at least hear) new animals. If you live near well-traveled trails, night hikes may be one of your best chances to enjoy your favorite hike without a crowd. We've already covered the basic principles of night hiking, but there's still time for a few final tips before you hit the trail.

6 Types of Backpacking Shelters
The pros and cons of the most common types of backpacking shelters, including bivy sacks, camp hammocks, tarps and tents.

The 8 Best Hiking Boots
My picks for the best hiking boots, based on hands-on testing and feedback from others.

How to Pee While Hiking - A Helpful Guide
Basic urine etiquette for both men and women, plus how not to bare your backside to the world when you've gotta go.

Hiking and Menstruation: FAQ
Yes, you can hike -- and backpack -- while menstruating. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about handling your period in the great outdoors.

6 Tips for Happy Spring Hiking
Spring hikes can provide the best -- and worst -- of both winter and summer. Here's how to pack, plan, and dress so you stay warm and comfortable on the trail.

4 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Hiking Boots
Don't throw out those old hiking boots yet! Here are four ways you can squeeze a little -- or sometimes a lot -- more life out of them.

5 Ways to Tweak Your Hiking Boots
Problem laces? Not enough cushioning in the soles? Here's a collection of methods for tweaking your hiking boots to solve these and other common problems.

Quick Review: Lock Laces for Hiking Shoes
Lock Laces may not be marketed directly toward hikers, but they're a great addition to light hiking footwear.

Gear Review: Arch Flex Insoles for Hikers
A candid review of Arch Flex insoles from a hiker who, as a general rule, doesn't like insoles very much.

Where Are You Hiking? Backcountry vs. Frontcountry vs. Slackcountry
What exactly is a backcountry hike? Here's a breakdown of what backcountry, frontcountry and slackcountry mean for hikers.

All About Hiking Boots and Shoes
How can I tell if my boots fit? Should they be waterproof? When do I need to replace them? Find the answer to these and other common questions about hiking footwear.

The front paw print, in mud, of a large grizzly bear
Brown bear tracks are characterized by their relatively flat curve across the front of the footpad.

Heed official warning signs; they're there for a reason
While we humans sometimes post signs warning about bear activity, the bears themselves leave plenty of clues that they're around.

Berry-rich scat from a black bear
Bear scat is a valuable indicator of what the animals have been eating; in fall, the scat is usually full of berries.

Bear scat full of berries
More bear scat with berries. If you saw evidence of animal remains instead in fresh scat, it could signal a nearby animal carcass; use caution.

Brown bear tracks in snow
Click through to see the difference in front and rear prints of a brown bear, left in fresh snow.

A clear black bear print
Black bear prints are characterized by a fairly rounded front curve on the footpad.

Bear markings on trees
Bears sometimes scratch, bite or rub on trees, leaving obvious marks.

The Right Way to Pack a Backpack
How to pack a backpack efficiently -- keeping everything you need within easy reach, and organized so that it rides comfortably as you hike.

Should I Wear Waterproof Hiking Boots?
If having waterproof hiking boots really an advantage? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Here's how to decide whether you should buy waterproof footwear or not.

Spring Hiking
Spring hiking combines the best and worst of summer and winter. You could face anything from lingering snow deposits to overflowing streams and unexpected temperature swings. But none of those are a problem as long as you're prepared.

The Best of the Best Inexpensive Hiking Gear
Great hiking and backpacking gear doesn't always have to be expensive! Check out these 12 picks for the best gear at bargain prices.

Winter Hiking
In hot climates, relatively cool winter is the perfect time to hike. But if you live in a colder climate, dealing with the cold, snow, and other winter hazards requires a little special know-how.

Summer Hiking
Summer's a lovely time to hike -- but it brings with it certain dangers, including thunderstorms, extreme heat, and potentially dangerous stream crossings. Here's what you need to know to keep safe and comfortable while hiking in hot weather.

The How and Why of Bushwhacking on a Hike
Bushwhacking begins with a hiker bent on forging through head-high undergrowth and, almost always, ends in misery.

Mobile Apps
That's right -- there's an app for hiking nowadays. Quite a few of them, in fact; here's a look at which outdoor apps do what, and how they perform.

A Review of the ExOfficio TriFlex Hybrid Shirt
Need a shirt that's tops for traveling and hiking in hot weather, but still looks good enough to wear in town? Check out the ExOfficio TriFlex Hybrid.

How to Find Hiking Pants That Fit
There's nothing worse than trying to take a big step on the trail and hearing your pants rip -- or even just feeling them hinder your movement. Here's how to make sure that won't happen.

Is it true that you lose most of your body heat through your head?
Estimates of how much body heat you lose through your head alone range from 40 percent to 70 percent. And guess what: They're wrong.

Pitching a Freestanding Tent
Not sure how to set up your freestanding tent? Start here -- we'll cover the basic how-tos of creating a taut, stable pitch.

Assemble the Poles
Assemble your tent poles. If you're not sure which pole goes where, check for color-coding or just use a little logic.

Attach the Tent Body to the Poles
Next, clip the tent body to the tent poles. Some older tents may have fabric sleeves instead.

Add the Rainfly
Tips for getting your tent rainfly lined up correctly, and telling which side faces out.

Stake Your Tent Out
A quick look at how to use a tent stake properly.

Tighten Down the Fly
Tighten your rainfly down and stake out its edges for a taut pitch.

The Fly-Only Pitch
Learn how to pitch just the rainfly of some tents.

What's in my hiking emergency kit
Do you have what you need to survive if a hike goes wrong? Here's a look at what I carry in my emergency kit, and why.

Useful items to have in your pack: First aid supplies
First aid supplies are a critical part of any emergency kit -- but only if you know how to use them.

Lost on the trail? Get found with an emergency whistle
If you're lost in the woods, an emergency whistle can save your voice and help rescuers find you.

Lost in the cold and dark? Then you'll be glad to have these along
During an outdoor emergency, a few comfort items can really help you stay in a positive mindset.

The most important survival tool of them all
Don't be fooled by all the cool gadgets out there! The most important survival tool of them all lives in your head.

Useful survival tool: The pocket knife
When choosing an emergency knife to carry on my hikes, I look for two or three criteria -- depending on whether it folds.

Duct tape -- the ultimate survival tool
If you can only carry a few survival tools in your pack, one of them should definitely be duct tape.

In emergencies, a little light can really save the day!
If you're lost or just running late, having a headlamp along can make the difference between getting home or stalling out for the night.

Another survival necessity: Fire
If you find yourself in a survival situation, a lighter -- or any other type of fire starter -- will come in handy.

A small, light and fairly foolproof way to purify water.
Another one of your critical survival needs: Water. Make sure you have a means of filtering or treating it.

The key to finding your way home
High-tech navigation devices are all well and good -- but when the screen breaks or battery dies, an old-fashioned compass can save the day.

The seed of an emergency shelter
If you find yourself out in the cold, a space blanket -- or any other emergency bivvy sack -- can make a real difference in your comfort and safety.

Surprise! Garbage bags really do equal survival tools
What survival tool packs down incredibly small and feather-light, yet can be put to a variety of uses? Surprise! It's a garbage bag.

Readers suggest what else to carry in your hiking emergency kit
Readers write in to suggest what else you should carry in your hiking emergency kit.

Nifty Things You Can Do With a Bandana
From trail marker to sun protection, bandanas have nearly unlimited uses on the trail.

Trail Marker
Need to mark a side trail or specific spot in the treeline? Use a brightly-colored bandana.

Use a Bandana as Sun Protection
If you forgot your sunblock, use a bandana to protect the back of your neck.

Use a Bandana as a Water Filter
If you don't have a water filter or pre-filter, improvise one with a bandana.

How to Waterproof Your Feet With Plastic Bags
No waterproof boots? No problem. If you're faced with a stretch of mud or water to wade through, you can always use plastic bags to waterproof your feet instead.

Double-Check Your Plastic Bags
Didn't expect that mud or soggy ground? Hole-free plastic bags are a great way to waterproof your feet.

Hold That Bag Up
Plastic bags, cinched around your ankles so they won't sag and leave gaps, make surprisingly good waterproofing for your feet.

An Alternate Finish
My favorite variation on the typical way of waterproofing your feet with plastic bags.

How to Put on Gaiters - Descriptions and Pictures
Struggling to get those gaiters on correctly? Here's the step-by-step process to keeping all those buckles and straps straight.

How to Put on Gaiters - Descriptions and Pictures
Hiking in gaiters keeps snow and mud from creeping up your pants or down into your boots -- but how do you put them on? Find out which way is up and where to put all those buckles.

Which Way Is Up (and Front)?
Are you confused about how to put on hiking gaiters? Here's a guide to which part goes where.

The Best Underwear for Hikers
Cotton underwear can make you mighty uncomfortable on the trail. Learn what you should wear instead.

How to Attach Snowshoes to Your Backpack
Snowshoes are great when the powder's deep -- but how are you supposed to carry them once you hit hard-packed ground? Find out here.

Side Compression Straps
If your pack is wide enough, side compression straps are one of the best ways to carry snowshoes.

Front Panel
If your pack has a detachable front panel made of sturdier stuff than mesh, use that to carry your snowshoes.

Horizontal Straps
Horizontal compression straps are another great option for toting snowshoes.

Attaching Snowshoes With a Bungee Cord
No good attachments on your pack? Use a bungee cord instead.

Under the Top Lid
That space between a top lid and the pack body is great for stashing all sorts of stuff -- including snowshoes.

Best Dayhikes Around Anchorage, Alaska
Some of Alaska's best dayhikes are right on the fringes of the state's biggest city.

6 Great Reasons to Try Winter Hiking
Wondering why you should bother with winter hiking? Here are six great reasons to make tracks in the snow.

The Best Hiking Boots for Wide Feet
A wide-footed hiker names seven of the very best boots and brands for men and women with wide feet.

Studded Boots for Hikers: Icebug's SPEED-L BUGrip Boots
Icebug's studded SPEED-L BUGrip boots are an excellent option for hiking in icy Alaskan conditions.

How to Dress Properly for a Winter Hike: Basic Layering
If you like getting outside in the winter, a warm sweater will only get you so far. The real trick is learning to combine that sweater with other layers of clothing to keep you warm and comfortable as you hike, no matter how fast or slow you're going (or how long a rest you decide to take).

Hiking at Night
Sometimes being out hiking after dark is an accident, but some people do it for fun. Here's what you should know if you're thinking of hiking in the dark.

Hiking in Snowshoes
If the snow's too deep for good old-fashioned boot hiking, snowshoes may be the next best answer. Find out everything you need to know about hiking in snowshoes here.

Help! My Hiking Boots Keep Coming Untied!
Do your hiking boots constantly come untied? Good news -- this is an easy problem to fix.

Vapur Element Collapsible Water "Bottle"
The Vapur Element is a little different than your classic hydration pouch (or

Hiking App: NOAA Radar Pro
No forecast is perfect, but real-time access to NOAA's weather stations and radar/satellite readouts is about as good as it gets.

The 7 Best Backpacking Tents
The best backpacking tents combine livable space, light weight, and enough strength to stand up to driving winds, rain and snow.

How to Hike in the Rain -- and Enjoy It!
Hiking in the rain doesn't have to be a miserable experience. The key is to dress properly, pack properly, and bring the right comfort items.

A Review of the Icebreaker Destiny SS Woven Wool Shirt
A look at the Icebreaker Women's Destiny SS woven wool shirt, which will be available in February 2015.

Daily Deal Sites That Feature Hiking Gear
These sites frequently offer hiking gear and gadgets at steeply discounted prices. But watch out -- the best deals go incredibly fast!

The 6 Best Sock Brands for Hikers
Find out which hiking socks are best, after many miles and years of testing.

Get Ready for National Trails Day 2015!
This year, National Trails Day is on June 6. NTD is a nationwide opportunity to do a little volunteer work for your favorite public lands, or just get out and play!

A Review of the Updated CamelBak Helena 22
The newly upgraded CamelBak Helena 22 hydration pack has a much-improved shoulder harness.

5 Car Skills Every Hiker Needs
Hiking means spending a lot of time at, or driving to and from, remote trailheads. Learn about the five common repairs you should be able to do on your car... just in case.

6 Fun Activities for Your Next Winter Hike
There's more to winter hiking than just walking. Try these six activities for all ages on your next hike!

Postholing - Definition and How to Avoid It
It's one of the most frustrating ways possible of spending a hike. That's what postholing is.

Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra vs. Kahtoola Microspikes
A head-to-head comparison of two excellent ice grippers: Kahtoola Microspikes and the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra.

On Minimalist Hiking
Minimalist hiking may be a trend now, but it was once as simple as traipsing around in water shoes. Here are the nuts and bolts of hitting the trail in barely-there footwear, plus where to look for minimalist shoes.

Hiking Gear Review: CamelBak All Clear
A full review after hands-on testing of the CamelBak All Clear, which finished a strong second in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.

Make Those Uphills Look Easy
No doubt about it, hiking uphill is a challenge -- but it's one that you can meet, and even enjoy, by using these simple tips.

2013 Reader's Choice: Best Backpacking Boots Finalists
A closer look at each of the finalists for best backpacking boots in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.

2013 Reader's Choice Awards: Finalists for Best Light Hiking Boot/Shoe
A look at vital statistics for finalists in the

grand canyon hikes
Here's a look at five top Grand Canyon hikes on the South Rim. The day hikes range from easy routes along the South Rim to more challenging outings that give you a chance to see the world of the canyon's depths.

9 Rookie Hiking Mistakes to Avoid
A collection of the most common mistakes made by hiking rookies -- and some experienced hikers, too.

Dressing for a Winter Hike: Hat, Gloves, Socks, and Boots
Winter hiking gives you a peek into a world of starry night skies, glistening new snow, fairytale ice formations -- and cold temperatures. Layering on the clothing is just one part of the puzzle; you also need to keep your head, hands, and feet warm.

5 Hazards of Winter Hiking
Hiking in winter takes you into beautiful, untouched landscapes -- but it also exposes you to some unique backcountry hazards.

The Versatile REI Motility Jacket
The REI Motility offers surprisingly good performance -- and even more surprising four-way stretch! -- at a solid value.

The Best Fit Tests for Hiking Clothing and Footwear
You won't get far on the trail if things don't fit! Use these tests to make sure you'll get the right footwear and clothing fit for the trail.

5 Signs You Need New Hiking Boots
Most heavy-duty hiking boots are built to last -- but lighter footwear and cheaper boots can wear out more quickly. Here are some of the more subtle signs that it's time to buy new boots.

Handles and Lit
Create a slit for the pot handle, or a notch for attaching the pot gripper. You can also add a lid if you like.

Save Fuel With a Pot Cozy
Cut down on the number of fuel canisters you have to lug -- and time spent babysitting your stove -- with a handmade pot cozy.

Assembling the Pot Cozy
Once you have the body of the pot cozy cut out, glue the bottom in place.

What Does Exposure Mean for Hikers?
Exposure is actually more of a climbing term -- but it has some potentially serious implications for hikers, too.

How to Hike Alone - Prepare for Safety
Sticking with a group is the safest way to travel -- but if you're determined to go it solo, here's how to cut your risks as much as possible.

11 Skills Every Hiker Should Master
At its heart, hiking is a simple sport -- but the best hikers have mastered, or at least dabbled in, a variety of outdoor skills.

The 2014 About Hiking Gift Guide
Must-have gear picks that even the pickiest, best-equipped of hikers will love.

Mountain Hardwear's Most Popular Hiking Pants
I tested Mountain Hardwear's Yuma hiking pants for more than a month, and will add updates about durability as appropriate. Read more about what works on the Yuma pants, and the few areas in which I think they could be improved upon. Page 2.

Hiking Pants That Actually Flatter: Mountain Hardwear Yuma
Mountain Hardwear's most popular hiking pant not only offers great fit and function, it even looks good doing it.

Gear Review: Patagonia Down Sweater
An experienced hiker reviews the 850 fill-power Patagonia down jacket -- a lightweight, packable, and overall excellent outer or mid layer for winter hikes.

Toilet Essentials for Hikers
Wondering how to handle bodily functions in the outdoors? Here's a guide to both the how and the why.

What to Carry on an Overnight Hike
A discussion of what to pack for your first overnight backpacking trip, based on the classic

All About Hiking in Snowshoes
Don't let winter stop you in your tracks! Here's everything you need to know about hiking in snowshoes, from buying your first pair of snowshoes to tips for enjoying more adventurous outings.

Hiking Shoe Review: Merrell Proterra Vim Sport
An avid hiker gives a frank review of the minimalist Merrell Proterra Vim Sport -- the women's entry in this line of lightweight hiking shoes.

Action Wipes for Clean Hiking - Review
Many hikers and backpackers use baby wipes for quick clean-ups on the trail. But they can be improved upon, and somebody finally has.

Q: Can Bear Spray Expire?
How much attention should you pay to the expiration date on your can of bear spray? Find out here.

5 Safety Tips for Hikers
If you're prepared, you don't have to stress -- you can just enjoy your hike. Use these tips to be proactive about safety on the trail.

Gear Review: Deuter ACT Lite 45 + 10 SL
A hiker's review of the Deuter ACT Lite 45 + 10 SL women's backpack -- a supremely comfortable pack at a reasonably light weight.

How to Keep Your Feet Warm While Hiking
Do your toes get cold while you're hiking? Here's how to identify and troubleshoot the most common causes of cold feet and toes.

What's a Tent Vestibule?
A tent vestibule is a sheltered area just outside the tent door, which may come separately or be integrated into the tent's construction.

Hiking Boot Review: The La Sportiva Boulder X Mid
An experienced hiker gives her opinion of the La Sportiva Boulder X Mid

Gear Tips, Tweaks and How Tos for Hikers
Use these tips, tweaks and tricks to get the most out of your hiking gear.

How to Keep Warm on a Winter Hike
Hike smarter, not colder! Try these simple tricks for keeping warm on your next cool-weather hike.

Hiking on Varied Terrain
Varied terrain -- and distance from home -- are two of the biggest characteristics that separate hiking from walking. Learn how to navigate the irregular terrain you're likely to encounter on the trail.

Moose Safety for Hikers
Moose are beautiful in a gangly sort of way, but they're also notoriously irritable and weigh more than half a ton. Here's how to avoid moose conflict in the first place, and what to do if a moose charges you.

Packed Weight vs. Trail Weight: What the Heck are They Talking About?
Why do tents have so many different listed weights? Find out what minimum trail weight, packed weight and fly pitch weight mean.

How to Hike on Scree
Scree -- also known as talus -- is pretty much purpose-engineered to make your hike difficult. Use these tips to cross scree fields safely.

All About Waterproof Hiking Gear
Waterproof hiking gear is pretty much what it sounds like -- but there are a few catches.

10 Essentials for an Overnight Hike - Packing List
A concise, printable packing list to help beginner backpackers decide what to carry.

Navigating Downhill Slopes Gracefully
Hiking downhill isn't always the easiest part of a trek. Learn tips for getting down even the steepest of hikes safely.

Hiking With a Dog
Hiking with a dog is a great chance to give your dog exercise and keep him or her stimulated. Simple precautions and planning will ensure that both you and your dog are safe on the trail.

Standout Gear From Day 2 of Outdoor Retailer's 2014 Summer Market
A look at the most eye-catching gear from Outdoor Retailer's 2014 Summer Market.

Hot Gear From Day 3 of the 2014 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market
It's round three! A collection of the most interesting gear at Day 3 of the 2014 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

That's a Wrap: Day 4 of the Outdoor Retailer 2014 Summer Market
It's the last day of Outdoor Retailer's 2014 Summer Market! Check out the most eye-catching gear (and snacks).

Day 1 of Outdoor Retailer 2014 Summer Market
A roundup of hiking gear that caught my eye on the showroom floor during day 1 of Outdoor Retailer's 2014 Summer Market.

Backpacks By the Numbers: Sizing and Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing a backpack, your hiking style and the length of your planned trip will determine which size you need.

What Are Pit Zips and Why Are They Still Around?
Although not as common as they once were, you'll still find pit zips on many hard-shell jackets.

Grand Teton Hikes
With mountain lakes, hidden canyons, and beautiful views of towering peaks, Grand Teton hikes let you explore the best of one of the country's most impressive national parks.

The Best Water Filters and Purifiers for Hikers
An experienced hiker lists her five favorite water filters and purifiers, with a short explanation of why each one made the rank.

Where Do You Find Hiking Buddies?
Fond of hiking, but your friends aren't? Or maybe they're just all too busy to hit the trail. Here are some great places to find new hiking buddies.

Learn all the skills in a hiker's repertoire, from getting the perfect pitch on a tent to facing down mountain lions and navigating in the fog.

Gear and Accessories
Wondering what's the best hiking gear or how to make sure you get the right boots? Find answers to all your gear-related questions here.

Do I Have to Buy Special Insoles for My Hiking Boots?
After buying a new pair of boots, the first think many hikers do is buy insoles too. Aftermarket insoles will help correct a few fit problems, but they're not for everybody.

Tent Anatomy 101
Do you know a fly from a footprint? Before you pitch your tent for the first time, brush up on each of the parts and their functions.

How to Stay Safe and Survive the Unexpected
Guess what the number one safety tool is? Your brain! Learn how to put it to work keeping you -- and your hiking buddies -- safe on the trail.

2013 Finalists for Best Water Filter/Purifier
A look at critical specs for the five finalists for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award for best water filter/purifier.

2013 Reader's Choice Awards: Finalists for Best Daypack
Background on each of the five finalists for

What's the Difference Between Supported and Unsupported Through-Hikes?
Learn the difference between supported and unsupported long-distance hikes.

Bear Safety for Hikers
Despite the headlines, bear attacks are rare. But before hiking in black bear or grizzly habitat, you should learn basic bear safety tips that will help minimize the danger.

Best Headlamp for Hiking - Reader's Choice Awards
Essential specs for all five finalists in the

5 Top Joshua Tree National Park Hikes
Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park explore a landscape of desert forests and surreal rock formations. Joshua Tree hikes also lead to hidden palm oases and to areas filled with spring wildflowers.

All About Hiking Poles
Answers to a slew of common questions about hiking poles, including sizing, shopping suggestions, how to carry them and how to use them.

Learn the Basics of Night Hiking - Safety and Fun
A night hike lets you experience familiar trails in a whole different way and engages more of your senses. Here some basic tips for how to go on a night hike.

Santa Barbara Beach Hikes
North of Santa Barbara, a wild section of the California coast offers beach hikes that explore towering dunes and long, isolated shoreline areas.

Best Backpacking Tents: 2013 Reader's Choice Awards
Specs and information on each of the finalists for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award for backpacking tents.

Lightning Safety for Hikers
Lightning is the third-leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Because safe shelter can be hard to find during a storm, hikers need to understand lightning safety guidelines.

Hiking in Mountain Lion Country - How to Stay Safe
Mountain lion attacks on humans are quite rare. But the big cats do live in or near many popular hiking areas, so follow these safety tips when you're hiking in mountain lion country.

How to Cross a River Safely - Hiking Advice
Knowing how to cross a river is an essential hiking skill. Preparation is key and so too is the ability to assess stream flow and determine a course of action.

2013 About Hiking Readers' Choice Awards
You voted for your favorite hiking gear in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards and the results are in! Get them while they're hot, and stay tuned for the next round of voting in 2014!

Hiking Apps for Wilderness Survival
If you're reading this in the wilderness, faced with an emergency, you're screwed. But if you're researching wilderness survival skills BEFORE you hit the trail, good for you! Here's a list of hiking apps that contain useful information about outdoor survival techniques. Both iOS and Android.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Hikers and Backpackers
Stumped by what to buy the hiker or backpacker that has everything? This holiday gift guide covers what to get the trail-savvy man or woman that already has just about everything he needs, but not necessarily everything he wants.

Zion Hikes
Head out on Zion National Park's top 5 hikes. Take these trails and you'll experience Zion hiking at its very best.

Hiking Boot Review: Scarpa Kailash GTX
The Scarpa Kailash GTX isn't built for extra-wide feet like mine, but I couldn't pass up the chance to at least take a closer look at them.

"The Fenis" Urine Director for Hiking
The Fenis is one of many urine directors, or devices that let women urinate standing up. Here's a candid review of how well the Fenis works for hikers.

Gear Review: U-Dig-It Folding Hand Shovel
Meant for digging cat (toilet) holes in the backcountry, the compact, fold-up U-Dig-It comes in handy for other purposes as well.

Endomondo For Hikers
Simple and easy-to-use, Endomondo is a helpful and versatile app for hikers.

Endomondo for Hikers
Simple and easy-to-use, Endomondo is a helpful and versatile app for hikers. Its supporting website provides numerous options for displaying and tracking performance. Page 2.

Fall Foliage Hikes in Maine
With its vast open spaces and forests, Maine is one of the country's prime destinations for fall color hikes. Here's a look leading destinations for autumn foliage hikes in Maine.

How to Dress for Winter Hikes
There's no reason to stop hiking in winter. You may not go out on the coldest afternoons but by knowing how to dress for winter hikes, you can take advantage of more moderate days no matter where you live in the country.

Hiking Resources and Organizations
Check out these hiking resources and organizations for details about trails, parks, and destinations. You'll find hiking guidebooks, maps, smartphone apps, and websites with trail tips and details. Research and plan outings and vacations and find out about group hikes with this diverse selection of hiking resources and organizations.

Hiking in Hot Weather
Summer means hiking in hot weather. With a bit of planning, you can still hike safely. But you definitely should pay attention to conditions and take precautions to avoid such dangerous ailments as heat stroke and dehydration.

10 Tips for Responsible Hiking
Learn how to be a low-impact hiker with these 10 tips for hiking responsibly. Simple steps will reduce your impacts and help protect the environment and the trail experience for your fellow hikers.

How to Start Hiking
Hit the trail with these tips on how to start hiking. You'll find advice about hiking equipment and clothing, where to find trails, and how to build up your skills.

Hiking by Season
A hike's a hike, right? Not quite -- what you wear, where you go, and how you do it can vary from winter to spring, summer, and fall. Find out how to prepare for a hike in any season, plus seasonal highlights, right here.

Summer Hiking
Summer is prime hiking season in most parts of the country. It's also a time of year when you need to be aware of seasonal hazards, including dangerous stream crossings and thunderstorms.

Plan a Hike
Wondering what you should pack or where you should go? Here's everything you need to know about planning a hike.

Getting Started
Start hiking with this easy guide to gear, trails, and nutrition. Learn the basics of how to hike and locate trails where you can build your skills. You'll find safety tips plus advice on hiking boots, clothing, and preparing for different weather conditions.

Wildflower Hikes
Wildflower hikes let you experience natural areas at their most beautiful. The quality of displays can depend on a number of weather factors and peak blooms can be brief, so plan ahead with this look at top wildflower hikes around the country.

Hiking Vacations
Discover the exciting world of hiking vacations. There are endless ways that you can make hiking a part of your next vacation or weekend trip. You'll find advice on a huge range of options for all skill levels—everything from multiday guided tours with top outfitters to tips about the best national parks and towns for hiking vacations.

How to Find the Right Hiking Vacation
Before deciding on a hiking vacation, you'll want to consider a number of questions. Here's a look at different approaches that will help you find the hiking vacation that's right for you.

Hikes to Waterfalls
On hikes to waterfalls, you're richly rewarded for your efforts. The chance to see a waterfall plunge down a sheer rock face provides a unique motivation when you're out on the trail. In most parts of the country, late spring and early summer are the prime times for hikes to waterfalls.

State Park Trails
While national parks are justly celebrated for their scenic beauty and recreation, state park trails offer some of the country's top hiking. State park trails can rival hikes in national parks and lead into memorable landscapes that may be well-known locally but not to hikers from around the country.

Hikes Near Cities
You don't have to travel far from major American cities to find outstanding hiking trails. There are all sorts of hikes near cities, as well as many trails right in urban parks.