At the time, I was living in Illinois, and had never experienced the beauty of the mountainous West. Upon returning from that trip, I felt a pull, as if the mountains were calling me back to them to come and play. Naturally, several more vacations were taken to Colorado, and eventually, the inevitable happened: my husband and our cat and dog made the final trip across the country, this time — to move to Boulder County, Colorado.
While visiting Colorado several times allowed me to become familiar with a lot of the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, I was not familiar with any of the trails in Boulder County. Of course, I didn't let that stop me from exploring! Over the course of the first three months after moving, I covered tons of trails in the area — both alone and with groups.
How to Discover Local Trails in Your Area
1. Read books on your area.
It might sound touristy, but it's such a handy tool when trying to explore a new area. I remember when I visited Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time, a client of mine gave me a book about Colorado, divided into areas and activities. I had worn the pages thin on the section of the park, but I hadn't yet explored the "Boulder" portion. I also learned a thing or two about the history of each of the parks!
2. Read (and join in the discuss of) local blogs.
As a blogger myself, when I first moved to Colorado, I sought out other local bloggers who wrote about hiking, climbing, running, and biking on the trails. I quickly learned 2 things: that people love to write about their trail adventures, and that these same people are typically very friendly! I now meet with a group of local bloggers for weekly Wednesday night trail runs.
3. Visit meetup.com
One of the first ways I found local trails was by seeing where other people were going to hike and run each week. Just plug in your location and the activity you're interested in, and you'll likely get back a handful of groups who have those same two things in common. Even if you don't end up 'joining' the meet up, you can at least get ideas for trails to explore in the area.
4. Go out and meet people!
Often times you discover the best kept secrets the old fashioned way — by talking to people! Find out when your community hosts events or parties, and simply bring up one of your trail-loving interests. You're bound to peak someone else's similar interest who wants to share what they know with you.
Another idea is to visit a very well-known trail, and strike up a conversation with someone else there. It's guaranteed they have similar interests here, and they just might have a few of their favorite trails they'd be willing to share with you.
5. Visit the ranger stations.
If you find a park with several great trails, chances are they might have a ranger station or visitor's center. If not, find a local ranger station in your area, and inquire. Not only will it have limitless information on the trails, but the employees who work there are usually very passionate about trails, too. I remember when I visited the visitors center at Estes Park, the person who helped me with directions was also the person who introduced me to some of my very favorite trails! If it hadn't been for his advice and suggestions, I might not have ever discovered the trails I did.
What are you waiting for? Go out and fall in love with trails near you!
Editor's Note: Paige is a regular contributor to the Sierra Social Hub as part of #TeamSierra. To learn more from her visit her blog: Your Trainer Paige.