Monday, June 27, 2011

What Makes A Great Trail?

I am back, sorta. Been out of the blogging loop for awhile but that will all change August 1st when I start hitting the trails and blogging in earnest.

I have been asked again to participate in the very fun Outdoor Blog Carnival O'Delight and the subject for this Carnival is all about what makes a trail great (in my mind's eye)?

I have pontificated before on how many people should hike with you, what gear you should take with you when you hike, how humans manage trails and many hikes that I have gone on.

Still, what makes the trail itself, the terra firma, a good un?

First off, I know I like trails like this....

rather than this:

Other than weaving around the prickly stuff, what do I look for in a trail?

Here is SoCal, it starts and ends with pine trees. A small thing but not an inconsequential thing.

One thing I have quickly learned about hiking in SoCal is the need for shade or cooler temps. Since the latter is unlikely, go where there are trees. Additionally, the scent of pine is unmistakeable and brings me back to my East Coast roots, always a good thing. New trail mixed with nostalgia? Sounds about right to me.

Secondly, the trail has to LEAD somewhere. A "d'uh" point you say but I say, think again! Are you ending up at the bottom of a canyon or the top of a mountain? Are you searching for a waterfall, vistas, rock formations? Aliens? "Its not the destination, its the journey..." blah blah blah. Really, unless you are going strictly for the exercise, you want some payoff for the grunting you just did on the trail.

Me? I'm a peak man. Get me high, get me vistas, get me above it all...

Finally, one wants stories to tell, on the blogverse or otherwise, so I try not to hike the same trails over and over again. When I find a place I really like, the Verdugos or Devil's Punchbowl Park for example, I try to find different trails, different ways to attack the same real estate. Life is too short to go up and down the same mountain 20 times over 10 years so get out there and find something new!

What do YOU (yes you) look for in trails? Let me know in the comments!


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