On a few of my recent hikes I have left the trails behind and gone off trail hiking, which is essentially getting lost on purpose. Off trail hiking is also referred to as bushwhacking.
Why would I do such a thing? Off trail hiking gives you a sense of freedom, adventure and exploring new territory. It can be amazing what you discover along the way.
I usually do this in county forests, large provincial or state parks with big wilderness sections. Please be respectful if any park requests you do not leave the trails.
How to go about off trail hiking:
1. Review the general area where you are planning your off-trail hiking journey noting closest roads and natural landmarks including rivers or streams.
2. Always pack a first aid kit, emergency blanket, extra food and water.
3. Advise someone of your plans should you be delayed in returning.
4. With a small and very flexible group of hikers start off from the trailhead and down a marked trail to get away from the parking lot.
5. After a distance just head off the hiking trail and into the woods.
6. I note the time so I can start planning a return about half way during my off trail hiking.
7. Personally, I use natures compass, the sun as a guide to set a direction and just change direction as I notice interesting hills, lakes or whatever along the way.
Could you get lost? Absolutely, on the rare occasion I cannot figure my way back using the sun or a compass I head in one set direction until the group reaches a road or identifiable landmark. It fact that I am writing this post means the system works.
Requirements for off trail hiking may include:
- You need a compass, which can range from a basic and very functional Suunto A-10 Compass to the popular Suunto Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch with Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, and Depth Measurement which offers amazing features to enhance your hiking.
- GPS specifically for hiking such as the Garmin Oregon 400i – GPS receiver – hiking
- Topographical maps
- Bushnell GPS BackTrack Personal Locator is a very basic GPS which gets you back to your starting location
Click the link for additional hiking accessories. For a great adventure in the woods why not try some off trail hiking and get lost on purpose.