The resources you need to pick the right hikes
By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor
Hiking is a popular fitness activity not just because it gives you a good, full-body workout, but because it gets you out of the house, exploring the beauty that British Columbia has to offer. Also, hiking is a fairly sun-safe activity for the summer: you tend to be under a shady canopy of trees as you trek along. If you’re anything like me, though, you have a vague desire to go on hikes but don’t necessarily know the best ones to go on—or even how to find out!
The Internet is a great resource for hikes and maps, for both more well-worn trails and walks that are off the beaten path. Whether you have some friends in mind to hike with, or are seeking a community of fellow hikers, the following websites should get you started going outside!
Vancouver Trails (http://www.vancouvertrails.com) has a very comprehensive list of local trails. You can sort their list by region (including close-by options like Vancouver City, or further journeys like Fraser Valley East or Pemberton), by length of time, distance, or difficulty level. This site is a great resource for beginners and experts alike. They also offer news that would be relevant to the hiker, like sales at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Head on over to their Region Map section for a handy visual of where all the local hikes are.
The Washington Trails Association (http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes) is similar to Vancouver Trails. It has a massive database of information on hikes and trails just south of the border, so if you’re a seasoned BC hiker looking for a change (and a stop for cheese at Trader Joe’s on the way home), check out the WTA site for Washington trails. Don’t forget your passport!
The BC Parks Board’s section on hiking (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/recreation/hiking/) is also quite useful—while it doesn’t lay out the information quite as well as Vancouver Trails, it does tell you about trail closures or poor hiking conditions. It can also be useful as a camping resource, as it tells you which parks are under campfire restrictions. Lastly, it’s good for hikes that are far away from the Lower Mainland.
It’s always a good idea to bring a buddy with you when you’re hiking for safety, but what if all your friends are allergic to the outdoors? If you’re in that predicament, there are resources online to help you find new friends to hike with. Wanderung (http://www.wanderung.ca/) is an email list for Vancouverites who want to hike but don’t know where, when, or who with. It’s completely free, and once you sign up you can receive email “callouts” for hikes. You then respond directly to the organizer of the hike, and off you go. With over 1,600 members and 400 events yearly, Wanderung is a great way to go outside, explore, and maybe make some new friends. Check their website and FAQ for more information.
While the Internet has a tendency to keep us indoors and on our butts, it also has the capacity to bring people together with fun outdoor activities. So get clicking, and then get hiking!