We’re so lucky over here in Seattle to have so many trails and outdoor activities at our fingertips. Just thirty minutes’ drive outside of the city and you hit the tallest mountains and the greenest trees. It’s special. If you’re like me though, you don’t handle a plethora of choices well. How do you choose how to spend your free time with so many great options? Where’s the middle ground between having a completely unique experience and muddling through an activity that 123,456,532 people are also doing?
I’ve got 99 problems and a trail ain’t one
There are so many hikes and trails to choose from in this wonderful state that it’s actually kind of daunting. I currently have at least 44 hikes on what I lovingly call my “Seattle Bucket List.” At the rate we’re going we’ll only scratch the surface of that list this summer!
Stay organized with your planning
The Washington Trails Association has truly become my go-to adventure guide. It’s thanks to them that my bucket list is a thing. They have an app too, which means any trail you want to check out is accessible wherever you go and you can save your favorites to your “backpack.” It’s great and I highly recommend using it if you live in the area. Plus, there’s an offline mode so if you’re really in the sticks without service you can still access important trail details.
Keep in mind though, it’s a bit like Yelp for hikers and adventurers. The most popular trails are the most highly reviewed, photographed and reported and are, therefore, the busiest ones on the weekends. And we are weekenders, so we have to keep this in mind with every trip we plan.
And there’s the dilemma, friends.
If you’re anything like me, you want to see the most amazing views, have the most memorable experiences, and document it all along the way. But at the same exact time, you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. You want to have unique memories and do great and unusual things. Don’t you?
How to have a unique outdoor experience
What I know for sure is that I don’t ever want to become jaded with busy trails. Despite how many weekend hikers we meet along the way, or how many times we have to stop to allow faster groups to pass through, I’m not going to stop loving every second of being outdoors on a trail. And being thankful that my legs are strong and capable of carrying me through it all.
Here’s how I like to make my hiking adventures unique:
1. Hello nature, my old friend:
Get up close and personal with nature. I don’t mean you should go off the trail or sleep in the bushes, but try taking macro shots of little scenes you find along the trail. Get down low for different perspectives. Tiny mushrooms, closeups of intricate moss, slow-moving SLUGS… any type of bug, really. These are all neat subjects to explore that might otherwise be overlooked while you’re working to the final photo-opp.
2. Scenery by season:
Consider seasonality when choosing a popular hike. Many destinations are usually so popular because they’re accessible any time of the year. Try exploring during off-season times (spring and winter, for example) and see what’s unique to that specific season. Do your research ahead of time though, especially if there’s a chance a trail could be closed due to snow or flooding.
3. Bring friends!
Self explanatory enough. Sometimes repeating a trail with different people will yield a completely different and equally memorable experience. Not that I necessarily try to repeat trails (read above: SO MANY), but some are great for bringing guests who might be visiting you.
What are your favorite ways to have a unique outdoor experience?