7 Tips to Avoid Crowded Trails While Hiking

Most of us flee to parks and recreational areas to escape crowded city centers and find solace and peace in nature. However, with more and more attention being drawn to these natural areas, the most popular hiking trails and parks can get flooded with people. Crowded trails aren’t the best places to find peace, silence, and solitude. Therefore, a hiker in need of solitude should practice these seven tips to avoid crowded trails while hiking.

1. Hike in the Off Season



The absolute best way to avoid crowded trails is to hike during the off season. During summer months, many people flock to parks and hiking trails, especially since many schools are off during these months. However, some locations are more popular in the winter months like desert environments and tropical destinations. To truly find the best hike for you, always research the trail, weather, and location. Do also keep in mind the time of year. Some parks swell during some holidays, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day. However, during other holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, less people will likely be hiking.

2. Choose a Lesser-Known Park or Trail

remote trail in Alaska

Popular parks and trails can get crowded. When crowded, hiking trails could get potentially dangerous. Choose a less popular park or trail to have a more remote experience. Don’t dismiss lesser-known parks or trails immediately. These locations were created and protected because there is environmental or social value in them. So, go check them out!

3. Get an Early (or Really Late!) Start


If you do choose to go to a busy or popular park or trail, timing could be everything. Get an early morning start! Or, hike later in the evening to catch the best sunset views. If you do plan on hiking early or late, always be prepared. Remember to bring a jacket during chilly early mornings. Don’t forget a headlamp or flashlight during a sunset hike.

4. Take a More Difficult Route

difficult trail sign

Easy valley trails and trails near campgrounds can get really congested. Tougher trails do tend to have less foot travel. Only hike a difficult route if you are physically prepared and have the right gear. Less people will likely take the difficult trail. However, some difficult trails could get crowded, so also make sure to do these trails early in the day to not only avoid crowds but weather.

5. Hike Farther

backpacking in Maine

Hike farther if you want to truly experience remoteness. With backpacking, you travel by foot with all your gear and food you will need for your adventure or between resupplies. A backpacking trip lets you hike farther into a trail system than a day hiker. Therefore, there is a less likely chance that you will experience crowds of day hikers.

6. Avoid the Weekends

crowded trail in angels landing in zion national park

This is the most common way to avoid crowds. Most people are off work during the weekend. Due to this, more people are flocking to trails and parks to have some recreational fun in nature during Saturdays and Sundays. That makes these days very busy for trails and parks. Although taking a lonely hike on a Tuesday sounds phenomenal, this might not always be possible for those of you that work during the workweek.

7. Embrace Not-So-Perfect Weather

hiking in cloudy weather

When the weather is perfect, more people are willing to go on a hike. However, if there are clouds, light rain, or chilly weather, the trails won’t nearly be as full. If you do intend to hike during a not-so-perfect day, always check the trail conditions. Some trails close during rainy weather to avoid a muddy mess. Other trails are dangerous to visit on a particularly cloudy day due to lightening. Just be smart and prepared regarding the weather, and you will have a great hike.

How do you avoid crowded trails while hiking? Give us your suggestions in the comments below!

Madison Dragna

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Madison Dragna