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Alaska Hiking Resources: Home

What to look for in a trail guide

  • Currency
  • Directions to trailhead
  • Trail map
  • Regulations and required permits
  • Elevation gain and length
  • Difficulty rating*
  • Description of trail based on 1st hand experience
  • Water available in the area
  • Wildlife in the area
  • Use (ATV, dogs, bikes)
  • Whether trail is maintained and by whom
  • Where to learn more about the trail
  • With some online guides, recent reports of trail conditions
  • Maps

*Difficulty ratings can be pretty subjective, and may vary by publisher.  It's a good idea to pay close attention to elevation gain, length, and trail conditions.

What to look for on your map

  • Trails
  • Campsites and man-made features like roads and bridges
  • Natural features like forest, tundra, streams, waterfalls, glaciers
  • Contour lines
  • Scale
  • Who manages the land
  • Who created the map

Note:  Even if you have a smartphone with GPS technology and  downloaded a topographic map, many experts recommend that anyone hiking in the backcountry have a paper topographic map and map-reading and compass skills. 

How to begin your research when you don't have a clue

Trail guides, maps, safety, and how-to resources on hiking  are published by government agencies that manage public lands, hiking and non-profit groups, individuals, and commercial enterprises. You can find them on the web, in government offices including visitor centers, book and  map stores, outfitters, and, of course, libraries. This guide highlights some of my favorite online resources, along with other positively reviewed resources.

The following three sites are good places to begin your research.