Following these guidelines we’ve found ways to enjoy a special spot all to ourselves, listen to nature along the trail and get that perfect shot.
- Hit the popular spots in the off season – A lot of trail features like waterfalls, overlooks and rock outcroppings don’t change much though the year so you won’t miss anything by visiting outside the main season. If you want to see seasonal features, like flowers or fall colors, keep reading this list.
- Timing is everything – Go early when others are still eating breakfast, 5-6 o’clock when people are getting ready for dinner and just before sunset are usually much quieter times to hike. (If you do hike near nightfall bring a flashlight or headlamp because you just never know what can happen or how long you might be out there).
- Choose trailheads that are a little bit harder to get to – Trails that are down long dirt roads, are off the beaten path or far from town are likely to be less crowded.
- Choose less popular trails – Look for trails that aren’t in everybody’s list, have fewer Google reviews or are generally not discussed online. Two great ways to do this are to find trails that are farther down on the list in Google or AllTrails and to consult the park maps which will have every trail available in that park.
- Sunny = Crowded – Slightly “off” weather like light rain, foggy/overcast, cold or snow can make for a magical hike without the crowds.
- Choose your day wisely – Holidays and weekends will always be more crowded. Check for special events as they will bring more people into the area and onto the trail. During special events the trails with the biggest payoff will be the most crowded.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be able to get the most out of your hiking experience.