My “go to” planning tools are a mix of CalTopo and Gaia. With both of these tools, and some other methods, I can plan out routes, look at alternate ideas, and dream up new hikes that I can’t wait to tackle.
However, not everyone wants to do this method of finding trip ideas. With our increasingly busy lives, people want ready-made routes with good logistic info, maps, permit info, and GPX points to download. People want the popular hikes in a given area and the info to go with them. And typically day hikes versus backpacking routes.
AllTrails is the popular website and app for this type of pursuit. But it costs money.
Enter the Hiking Project. A resource which works under the umbrella of REI.
Very similar to AllTrails. but FREE. And, as with AllTrails, Hiking Project even has an app available for download.
You get some basic maps, driving directions, route info, any info about red tape or permits, difficulty level, and even the weather. You can even download the GPX info for your mapping software of choice.
I see the primary use of this website falling into three categories:
- People who want to know available hikes when traveling into an area. Some in-depth research is not always feasible.
- People like some of my friends with families, busy jobs, and other obligations. The time bank funds are often thin. Having four or five hikes available with easy planning is clutch.
- People new to the outdoors. The skill set to research hikes is not quite there yet.
Is this website and app perfect? Of course not. The hikes are mainly (not always) skewed to day hikes. And by its nature, Hiking Project is set up not for trip planning, but boilerplate “do this hike” type info.
But if you want to get some ideas and have some of the heavy lifting of the planning done for you, you could do far worse than Hiking Project.
The price is right, the database of trip ideas grows each day, and as more people make use of this website and app, the first-hand reports become more useful.
Another tool to have in the trip planning kit. Be it a seasoned traveler looking for trip ideas, a busy parent who needs an appropriate family hike and does not have time to plan, or the person new to the outdoors and appreciates the detailed and easy to access info.
Check out Hiking Project. It is a resource that just might work for you.