10 Tips to Avoid Crowded Trails This Summer

While I do appreciate hiking with my family and friends and sharing the experience with fellow hikers, I also value the opportunity to be alone in nature. Hiking serves as a form of moving meditation for me, allowing me to clear my thoughts or ponder on new projects and ideas. During these solitary hikes, I prefer to avoid crowds and fully immerse myself in the tranquility of nature.Today, I’m here to share 10 easy-to-follow rules that help me to have more solitude on the trails (or at least close to it).

1. Hit the trails early or late: 

First and foremost, do not hike during rush hour. Get up early to be among the first to hit the trails, or stay late to be among the last. You will not be disappointed in either case. 

Early morning hikes are my preference. The one where you start with your headlamp on and finish just before the sun comes up. It’s okay if you’re not an early riser! Sunsets are also beautiful, especially if you’re hiking with friends and want to share a drink before returning home.

2. Pick weekdays and avoid holidays: 

As I previously stated, having the trails to yourself is a matter of timing. Go outside on weekdays when the majority of the population is at work to keep things as quiet as possible. It will also be a plus if you can avoid the holiday seasons. On weekdays I find it much easier to set up my picnic in places with a nice view and enjoy more time to spend relaxing on deserted trails.

Avoid crowds
On a weekday you can be almost alone even with the view at Matterhorn!

3. Challenge yourself with longer hikes: 

By avoiding easy hikes, you will avoid families and beginners, sweat more than usual, and, most importantly, sleep well at the end of the day. Prepare for what is to come by studying the map, bringing the necessary equipment, and making a connection with nature. I often choose hikes that take longer than 6 or 8 hours to increase my chances of being left alone. It should be sufficient to achieve complete peace. When it comes to the difficulty of the trail you want to take, make sure you know your limits (technical aspects as well as physical load).

4. Seek local advice: 

Feel free to ask for advice from locals before making your decision or while you’re out on the trail. People are always willing to share their experiences if they are asked nicely. You will discover more intriguing locations and stay away from busy trails where you won’t get any solitude.

 If you don’t know where to go, go to the tourist office and explain what you’re looking for. Most of the time, you’ll be pleased!

5. Don’t wait for the perfect weather. 

Aside from storms, there is no such thing as bad weather, it’s all about having the right gear! With some clouds or light rain, there will be far fewer people around you, giving you more opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy nature to yourself. I like to explore the same trails in different weather and find them never the same.

Avoid Crowded Trails
It might not be a perfect weather, but not less exiting!

6. Hike During Shoulder Seasons: 

Shoulder seasons, which are the times between peak seasons, are generally less crowded on trails. 

I love hiking in the shoulder seasons, such as spring or late fall. Nature often offers breathtaking views of its beauty. You can find an array of vivid wildflowers, striking foliage, or unique lighting conditions, just take your pick!

If you enjoy photography, consider scheduling your hike during these times to capture the breathtaking scenery with fewer people. Without having to compete with throngs of hikers, you’ll have more opportunities for stunning photographs, and you’ll be able to truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the changing seasons.

7. Consider Midweek Camping: 

If I am planning an overnight hike, I often consider camping during the week rather than on weekends. On weekdays, campgrounds and backcountry campsites are often less crowded, allowing you to enjoy a more quiet and peaceful camping experience.

8. Create your own route. 

I enjoy looking at a map and planning routes through a landscape. Will this path lead to this lake? Is this ridge going to take me all the way to this basin? I’m curious about the view from that unnamed peak. 

I also frequently use the Wikiloc app to plan my outdoor adventures. It usually provides plenty of trail suggestions of varying difficulty and distance around every possible location. I can then build my own itinerary based on my own preferences.

I frequently come up with creative ways to traverse a range or landscape by looking at a map first, before consulting guidebooks or apps. Yes, I occasionally find myself on high-traffic corridors, but I usually veer off on my own adventure before long.

9. Go few minutes further

Pushing yourself to go just 10 minutes further from the usual destinations, such as a peak, waterfall, or lake, can lead to surprising discoveries. From breathtaking campsites to untouched powder for backcountry skiing, this simple trick that I use has proven to be incredibly rewarding.

10. Accept that sometimes you will be on a crowded trail

I understand that sometimes I may find myself surrounded by crowds in nature, despite my preference for solitude. In those moments, I choose to celebrate the fact that so many people have chosen to explore the outdoors. I truly believe that increased connection with nature can lead to a better world. As such, I strive to be kind and welcoming to newcomers, as these natural spaces belong to all of us and it’s our collective responsibility to care for and share them.

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