How to Find Out Where to Go Backpacking and Hiking

How to Find Out Where to Go Backpacking and Hiking

Perhaps the most daunting task of planning a backpacking or hiking trip is finding a trail or route. There are almost as many tools and resources as there are trails, which is why we’ve compiled this article - we’re here to help you discover your own next adventure. There are many factors that go into planning your next backpacking trip, but location is a great starting point. For experienced backpackers, this research project becomes part of the fun - studying maps and trip reports to craft the perfect itinerary. For beginners, it can be confusing to figure out where to even start. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite tools and resources, and some tricks to discovering your next favorite place.

Different Ways to Start Your Search

  1. Use one of the mapping apps or tools discussed below to find public lands and trails near you.
  2. Search for recommendations and trip reports for the area you discovered or want to go. Some example searches: “best Colorado front range backpacking trips,” “ Colorado front range backpacking trips,” “Colorado front range backpacking trip report”
  3. Go into a local outdoor store and ask for recommendations. See stores that carry Backpacker’s Pantry here.

How do You Know What Trails are good for Backpacking?

No matter how you search, you’re going to find that there are a lot of trails out there - so many possibilities and adventures to be had! That leaves the tough task of choosing. First, you need to make sure that backpacking is permitted on the trail or area. Next, we recommend that you take a look at your goals and desires - are you looking for a lake or stream to camp by? Looking to push your physical limits and summit a pass or peak? Solitude? Each of these factors, and more, can help you narrow down a trail. Distance is the next major consideration. If you’re not sure how far you want to go, we recommend beginner backpackers start out with about 5-10 miles per day, depending on terrain and fitness. From there, it’s all about finding the perfect spot, or exploring somewhere new, so dive in below where we cover some good ways to learn more about potential trails and trips.

how to find backpacking trails

Learn Your Public Lands

Most backpacking happens on public lands. Learn about the various state and federal agencies in your area. Apps like OnX Backcountry are helpful in determining the land manager.

State Land Agencies and Owners

  • State Parks
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • State Forests
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Coastal Commissions or Authorities
  • Historic Sites or Heritage Commissions

Federal Land Agencies and Owners

  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

National Resources

State-Specific Resources

Depending on your location, there may be state-specific resources like the Washington Trails Association with their interactive “Hikerfinder Map.”

how to find where to go backpacking

Get Creative with Your Searches

Becoming a Google sleuth can help you uncover other hikers' favorite spots. Search for "trip report" in addition to your query for more pictures and firsthand accounts, or try searching on Reddit for unbiased reviews.


There are many resources to help you plan your hiking and backpacking trips. Dive into this fun world of trip planning and soon your to-do list will be longer than the days of the summer.

Backpacking Trail Finders and Resources by State