Getting out on to the trail and into nature is a truly satisfying activity, especially as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer. After all, hiking has been shown to have significant health benefits, giving you a good workout, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels, boosting your mood, and even improving creativity. Going for a hike is fun, energizing, and one of the best things you can do for your health.
The good news is, with the development of new online tools and technologies it’s never been easier to plan a hiking trip from home! You’ll find a plethora of imaginative and useful online tools that aim to help you explore the world virtually, visualize your next hiking adventure, and prepare yourself for the trail.
Take advantage of these handy digital resources and you’ll soon be raring to go and ready to get out on the trail!
Go on a Virtual Hike First
Although many of us like to be surprised on a hike, there are advantages to having some idea of the type of terrain and landscapes you are likely to encounter. Virtual hiking can take many forms, but one way to visualize your upcoming hike is to watch a real-time video of the route, shot from a first person perspective. These beautiful HD hiking videos offer an excellent way to imagine yourself out on a trail and can help you prepare physically and mentally for the challenge you’re about to undertake. What’s more, these immersive videos, often accompanied by soothing music, can be a wonderful way to relax, meditate, and become inspired by the beautiful landscapes that await you.
Get Inspiration For Your Trip
One of the most difficult things about planning a special hiking trip or backpacking expedition is deciding where to go! If you’re not sure where to head for your next hike, check out Google Treks, which will allow you to walk in the footsteps of other hikers who have already completed some of the world’s most popular and thrilling trekking routes. Dedicated hikers gathered the footage, carrying specially designed Street View cameras for the complete length of the trek, capturing the beauty of the trail in 360-degree detail. Using the interactive features, you can walk in their footsteps, allowing you to visualize all aspects of the route at every stage of the journey. From Everest Base Camp to the Grand Canyon, these online tools are certain to inspire your next hike and leave you itching to get out into the wild.
While Google Treks only covers a relatively small number of iconic hikes, the good news is that Google Earth offers a wide range of visualization and mapping tools, rich in vibrant detail. In particular, their dedicated resources focusing on US national parks are a fantastic way to explore the great outdoors without leaving your sofa. Using these tools, you can explore every detail of the trail, map your route, prepare yourself for the terrain, and even use Street View to get a first-person perspective.
Pin Down All The Details
Once you’ve got an idea of where you’d like to go, take advantage of a wide range of online resources for planning your trip in detail. Drawing on the experiences of other hikers, many sites offer detailed descriptions of the best hiking trails, with precise GPS trail maps, advice about local weather conditions, and insider tips to ensure that you don’t get lost along the way. You’ll find difficulty ratings, so you can gauge whether the route is the right one for you, elevation charts and descriptions of the terrain, and plenty of inspiring photos to whet your appetite for beautiful landscapes and views. If you’re travelling as part of a group, you’ll also find collaborative online mapping tools that will help you navigate backcountry trails and backpacking routes. You can plan each day of your trip, complete with detailed trail maps to ensure you don’t lose your way, and make sure that you have all of the equipment you’ll need. Preparation is key for any hiking trip, and these tools will help make sure that you are ready for the trail.
Learn About The Local Wildlife
If you’re heading for a national park in the United States or Canada, it’s worth taking the time before you go to learn about the local flora and fauna. You’re likely to encounter plenty of wildlife out on the trail, so it’s good to know how to respond and how to identity some of the beautiful animals, birds, and plants that you might see. Luckily, there are plenty of resources offered by the National Parks Service, with lots of accessible information to help you learn about the particular charms of each national park. In particular, check out the live wildlife webcams hosted by the National Park Service, and the wilderness webcams maintained by Parks Canada. These are both fantastic resources, allowing you to observe the animals and birds in their natural habitats.
These online resources are free, easily accessible, and an ideal way to visualize and plan your next hiking adventure! Use these tools to find a little inspiration, and to make sure that your next trip runs smoothly, allowing you complete freedom to make some wonderful memories in the great outdoors.
RICHARD CAMPBELL is the founder of 10Adventures.com and has over 20 years of experience with hiking and adventure travel that has taken him all over the world.