Yeah, I hear ya! And with two Summers of pandemic-living, more and more people who normally wouldn't be venturing out onto the trails have been doing so. On the one hand, I am happy to see people returning to the outdoors. But it's certainly taking its toll.

Around here (Northern Illinois), to get away from people is requiring less trail time and more river time - hopping into a kayak or canoe, paddling down a river, and finding a piece of quiet shoreline to hang out on.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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Nearly all trails are unpopular if you start hiking at 6:00 AM (the benefit of being a morning person).😴

I find that the best way to find unpopular trails is, identify trails with a famous popular destination (an overlook, waterfall, etc..) and go there. Then take the other fork away from the famous thing.  This is especially effective in places that locals avoid due to overcrowding since literally everyone is there specifically to see the famous thing.  

I look to the less-popular areas... state parks, national forests, other management agencies. Here in Florida the water management districts have a lot of land, and outside of hunting season most of it is seldom visited. In Oregon, the wilderness areas in the eastern part of the state seem to get relatively little traffic compared to the western half. Of course, it takes a bit longer to get there from Portland, and you don't get views of Mount Hood!

One trick I learned years ago was to leave on Friday afternoon and hike in a few hours that evening... sometimes you can get far enough ahead of the crowd that you won't see anyone else until you hike out on Sunday! And, of course, hiking on weekdays helps, if you're able to do that.

Bottom line is, especially near major cities, it can be a challenge to find anything approaching solitude. We should probably consider restrictions on numbers of people in a lot of places... camping and even hiking permits, etc.

My best friend’s daughter and her fiancé won a lottery drawing reservation for a choice camping site at Yosemite NP. 

I am very happy they were able to share that special experience together. 

Advanced online reservations, permits and lotteries at established trails and campgrounds, may be the new normal, if not now, in the near future.

Blessed are the people of which, have in the past, and or still can enjoy the true wilderness experience.

A true gift of self awareness and Nature’s complexity.