When it comes to planning your next outdoor trip, you don't want to be unprepared.
Is this hike going to be an easy walk in the woods? Or do you need to be ready to scramble a mountainside, walk along exposed ridges, or take the right fork in the trail?
There are tons of helpful websites & apps out there to help you plan and enjoy your time in the wild. They help keep you safe - and they also help you not miss something rad (waterfalls, overlooks) that you might regret later.
I want to share some valuable digital resources you can use to plan your trips better and enjoy them more. My hope is that this list will help you adventure in new places better. I'm only including resources I've used, found valuable, and aren't specific to a small geographical area. Oh, and one last thing: always be sure to research the Leave No Trace tips for your hike. And remember to have fun out there.
Here are our favorite websites/apps to enjoy our adventures even more:
AllTrails (Website and app)
This is a website and app that shows popular hiking trails near you, along with photos and reviews. You can buy the premium version to download maps offline. My favorite thing about AllTrails is that since it's super popular, you can use it to get an idea of current trail conditions, when the parking lot usually fills up, and other hard-to-find information. Perfect companion for planning trips & making sure you stay on the trail. (Bonus: check out the less-popular trails to find ones that aren't as crowded.)
National Park Service (Website)
Yep, the NPS website has a ton of helpful information on trails, things to do, and how to be prepared for your trip. Bonus points for planning your trip here, then talking to a ranger when you get there. They're super helpful for customized, experienced trail planning. A great way to plan trips.
The Outbound Collective (Website and app)
The Outbound doesn't just have helpful trail information - they have local adventure suggestions that aren't hiking. I use them a lot in new mountain towns or when I get tired of hiking all the time (yes, that does happen). Awesome for discovering new things to do in an area that you never would have considered or heard about otherwise.
Leave No Trace (Website)
Headed to the desert? The mountains? Check out LNT's website to be more like Bigfoot and leave no trace on your adventures. I don't think anyone knows everything about LNT, but it's really rewarding to upgrade your outdoor responsibility knowledge on each trip outdoors. Great for being prepared & responsible outdoors.
Summit Post (Website)
A huge repository of information on trip reports. This is particularly great for hikes that aren't in national parks or popular areas, because it shares a lot of beta for how to get to the trail, how to stay on the trail, etc. Great for hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and daydreaming.
Hiking Project (App)
REI's app is great for downloading hiking maps for offline use - for free. If you're not ready to splurge for an AllTrails subscription, this is an OK substitute. But I'll be honest: once I upgraded to AllTrails, I didn't look back.
Merlin Bird ID (App)
If you're really into birds (who isn't?!), this is a great way to identify them in the wild. It's easier than carrying an ID book. Just enter where you are, the bird's size and its colors, and it spits out a really accurate list of what bird you probably saw. Bonus: you can share your sighting with Cornell's ornithology lab - yay citizen science!