Trip Planning: Choosing a trail and what to do before you go

Photo Credit: Whitney Palmer

You have your 10 Essentials, you know what you’re going to wear, now you just need to choose where to hike. If you're not joining us on a retreat or group hike, here's how you can plan your next adventure.


We find hiking trails using a few resources:

  • Lower Mainland and Whistler hiking resource with detailed trail descriptions and downloadable maps.

  • detailed trail guides and free PDF downloads for hikes around Vancouver.

  • extensive website for trail guides and maps located around the world

  • female-run Vancouver-based blog with trail guides, helpful hiking resources, and an Instagram page for hiking inspiration

  • female-run Vancouver-based blog with trail guides, detailed travel guides, helpful hiking resources, and an Instagram page for hiking inspiration

  • Guidebooks, like Stephen Hui's 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern BC

  • Suggestions from trusted friends and members of the hiking community

Note on using social media to choose a trail: while there is no shortage of hiking inspiration to be found on Instagram - we use it ourselves - carefully research any hikes you discover on the platform. Location tags can be inaccurate and Instagram photos do not always give the full 'picture' of the hike (e.g. trail conditions and safety concerns).

Read the comments section: If you find a hike online, it's also helpful to read the comments. Hikers will often alert others of any change in trail directions, missing trail markers, animals in the area, how long it took them to complete the trail, and so on.


Once you find a trail you are interested in doing, it's important to determine how long it will take, if is suitable for your experience level, and if it is safe to do during the time of year. Consider the following details about the trail:

  • Total distance covered

  • Elevation gain

  • Type of terrain

  • Fitness level and size of group

  • Location: many backcountry trails are only open to hikers during the summer months

Note on hiking speed: MEC suggests on flat ground, a hiking speed of 4-6 km per hour is average. For every 300 m of elevation gain, add an extra 30 minutes. Hiking times will vary greatly depending on the terrain - with smooth and dry trails being easier and faster than rough, wet trails or ones with loose rock.

And remember: just because you can run a 10 km or complete a challenging workout in the gym, does not mean you can complete a full-day hike with no hiking experience.

Once you have chosen a trail suitable to your fitness and experience level, print out the directions. Don't rely on your phone!


Before you leave on your hike, it's important to tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return - whether you're hiking alone or in a group. Complete a trip plan and leave it with this trusted person.

The plan should include your: destination, travel route, any equipment required, names of all hikers, car you are driving (colour, model, and licence plate), and expected return time.

Your life could depend on the trip plan. While on your hike, stick to the plan. In the event that you do not return as stated in your plan, it can be given to police and search and rescue organizers to help them find you.

Visit to download their free AdventureSmart Trip Plan app. You can easily create trip plans, send them to your family and friends, and mark them as complete when you finish your hike.

Get the knowledge you need to hike safely and with confidence

Join us at our Hiking 101 Workshop on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in downtown Vancouver.

Our founder Danielle Leroux will be joined by guest speaker Kristine Krynitzki, Founder of Hikes Near Vancouver for an open discussion about hiking. The workshop will cover:

  • Trip Planning

  • Training

  • What to do if you get into trouble while hiking

  • Hiking Resources

  • Ten Essentials

  • How to dress for a hike

Grab your spot here and get the knowledge you need to hike safely and with confidence at this workshop designed for beginner and new womxn hikers.