How to Uncover 'New to You' Hikes on WTA this Winter
Hint: it's all in the filters.
There are a lot of hikes in Washington ... like a lot. The WTA Hiking Guide is bursting with more than 3,500 hikes from all across the state. And sometimes, the thought of wading through all of those is enough to make you close your laptop and head off to tried-and-true favorites instead.
Which is why we thought we'd share a few of our staff's favorite filtering tricks.
The Hiking Guide has a fairly robust set of search filters. And while the "Mileage" and "Elevation Gain" filters get a lot of love, there are many more filter options that you can use to your advantage — especially when you want to whittle down the possibilities to find a new trail to explore.
Filter like a staffer
Here are a few examples of how we like to use the advanced filters when we start out a hike search for work or our weekends.
Filter by PARKING PASS to Find nearby city & County trails
Filtering by "Required Pass" is one of our newest Hiking Guide features and it's been proving incredible handy. The obvious functionality of this filter is to help you find hikes that you can visit with the passes you have on hand — but we also like to use it to pull up some interesting, lesser-known trails.
Filtering the "Required Pass" by "None" will show you hikes that require no parking pass or fee to visit. This search will likely bring up a lot of city and county parks, perfect for winter hiking when you're trying to not to travel much.
(The Hike Finder Map or Hikes Near Me features on our mobile app are also great for unearthing local spots.)
Set High Point to Find Snow-Free hiking
We've found the "High Point" filter to be especially handy during the winter months. If you want to ensure a snow-free hike (or if you really want to find snow) this filter can be used in conjunction with snow level maps for the area you'd like to visit.
For example, if you'd like to find a snow-free trail near Mount Rainier and the snow level in that area is currently at 2000 feet, use that number as your high point (and be sure to uncheck "Include hikes with incomplete info" too).
Using the filter this way will give you a much more manageable number of hike options to sift through, and you might be surprised with what you find! We love using this filter when we want to explore a less-visited trail that may not have many recent trip reports, as it'll give you a better idea of what kind of conditions you may encounter.
KEYWORD for ... Everything
The "Keyword" search is really a fun one. Unlike the established "Feature" checkboxes (which are great too!) using a keyword can dig up some hyper-specific queries — and connect you with exactly what you're looking for. (Expect to go down a few unexpected, but hopefully interesting, rabbit holes.)
Think about some of the features you really enjoy on your favorite trails. Do you love the panoramic views? The interpretive signs? A specific type of flower or mushroom species? Search for it! You'll likely turn up a handful of trails that you may not have heard of, but that share something in common with your usual go-to's
A few example keywords to try out: "arboretum", "beaver" "snowshoe", "ridge" or "nature trail."
(Keywords are also a great way to search through trip reports).
Bonus: Use Results Order to find the best two-star hikes you've never heard of
Do your regular searches (5-10 mile hikes with a waterfall, for example) keep turning up the same hikes on the first page of results?
When you pull up the Hiking Guide, hike results will automatically be sorted by which entries have been most recently updated. But — you can change that! At the bottom of our filter list, you'll see an option to sort your results in a few different ways: by name, by mileage, by max elevation and by rating.
Try using your desired filter options and sorting your results by highest rating instead. And then ... head to the very last page of results. This may seem counter-intuitive (who wants to hike a poorly-rated trail?) but the truth is, there are tons of great less-visited trails out there that simply haven't received more than a few ratings yet! So if you want to buckle up for a little adventure, consider giving these trails a shot.
Do you have a favorite tip for finding new hikes on the Hiking Guide? Share it in a comment below! And as always, if you do head out to a new trail, share the latest with us and other hikes in a trip report.