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Like many people, we go hiking to escape and find respite from the busyness of life. That can feel hard to get when you’re surrounded by lots of other people on a crowded trail, though! That’s why we wrote this guide with tried and true tips on how to ditch the crowds and find seclusion on your next hike.
Learn to Map Out Your Own Routes
Learning to map out your own routes is a great way to find quieter, less crowded hiking trails. Often, there are a few different ways to get to the same place (or a similar, lesser-known view in a nearby spot). Knowing how to use a paper map, or easily build routes using apps such as Outdooractive, is an easy way to discover hidden gems in your area.
Avoid Popular Hiking Apps
We avoid popular hiking apps such as AllTrails, since it’s a go-to for many other hikers and tends to only display the most popular routes. If you’re hiking abroad, AllTrails is especially limited and seems to include mostly insta-famous spots people have input. Wikiloc is lesser known, but if you’re comfortable mapping out your own routes, it’s a great way to get ideas on secluded spots to go explore.
Opt for Sunrise Hikes and Sunset Hiking
Sunrise and sunset hiking is our favorite way to find peace and quiet on the trail. While sunrise and sunset hiking is beautiful, it does require an extra level of caution since you’re likely to be traveling in the dark (don’t forget a headlamp!). Due to safety concerns, it’s best to stick to trails and terrain you’re familiar with.
Can’t get out as early as sunrise, or stay out hiking until sunset? No problem! Even opting to hit the trail early, or go out close to dinner time, can significantly cut down on the amount of people you see.
Sunrise and Sunset Hiking Considerations
If you’re thinking of a sunrise or sunset hike, don’t forget to consider the following:
- It’s best to stick to trails and terrain you’re familiar with while hiking in the dark
- In some places, there may be restrictions on what times you can visit an area (such as between dawn and dusk) so check ahead of time.
- Because we live in the alps, night hiking easy to do without the worry about running into a bear, mountain lion, or other large animal. If you’re traveling through areas with wildlife, be sure to take the proper precautions, such as making plenty of noise and carrying bear spray.
Overnight at your hiking destination by camping or staying in a mountain hut
Whether for one night, or a few, staying overnight at your hiking destination is a great way to avoid the crowds. You also get the benefits of catching sunrise and sunset in a beautiful spot when you stay overnight. Camping is the most popular way to do overnight hiking trips in many parts of the world. If you’re hiking in the alps, the best way to do an overnight trip is actually by staying in huts, though! In many areas, camping isn’t allowed, but hut stays are located all over the mountains. I’ve seen huts located on summits, next to glaciers, just a stone’s throw away from an alpine lake, and more.
Join hiking groups in person, or online to get local trail recommendations
If you want the best recommendations for where to hike like a local, joining a hiking group (in person or online) is a great place to start. Many mountain communities have Facebook groups you can join, ask for advice, and meet up with others who love the outdoors. When I first moved to Germany, I found the hiking group, ‘’Hiking Buddies Munich’’ to be a great way to find cool spots and meet new friends. In the Alps, the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC); German Alpine Club (DAV); Austrian Alpine Club (ÖAV), Italian Alpine Club (Club Alpino Italiano); and the French Alpine Club (The Fédération Française des clubs alpins et de montagne, or CAF) are also great places to look.
Avoid hiking on weekends and holidays
If you can, hike on weekdays and avoid hitting the trail on weekends and holidays. Without a doubt, this is one of the busiest times to be out. If you’re heading out on the weekend or a holiday, skip the most popular hikes (and short ones) in your area. For those who don’t have the flexibility in their schedule to get out during the week, you can still find seclusion by following the other tips in this guide.
Go hiking, even when the weather isn’t ‘’perfect’’
Moody, rainy weather can be a great time to go hiking. On wet weather days, many will choose to stay home, giving you plenty of outdoor quiet time. Waterfalls are some of my favorite places to hike when it’s rainy. For safety, avoid areas that are at risk of flash flooding or involve steep terrain that requires sure footing.
Visiting a popular outdoor destination? Hike just a little bit further.
Sometimes all you need to do is hike a short distance to beat the crowds at popular outdoor destinations. For example, Kleine Scheidegg is one of the top attractions in the Swiss Alps, but if you hike a mile from the train station, you’ll feel like you have the entire mountain to yourself!
Hiking in another country? Look up hiking info in your destination’s language using Google Translate
While hiking in another country, it can be hard to find the best trails to hike that aren't written by travel influencers. Searching for hiking info in your destination’s language using Google Translate can open up your world to so many options that bloggers and other travelers aren’t aware!
As Americans living in the Alps, we started this blog to share resources about the areas we recreate, written from the perspective of ‘’locals’’.
Want More Hiking Tips and Alps Hiking Inspiration?
If you want more ideas for hiking and exploring in the alps, follow along on Instagram @madudesinthemountains.