What is your favorite type of hike? Do you like to go to a local park and use the marked trails? Do you like to explore on your own? Do you do day hikes or overnight treks?
My husband and I disagree on the need to stay on the trail. I hate to venture off and he has no fear! Day hikes or up to one overnight are my favorites. Any hike outdoors with a specific destination in mind with nice weather tops my list.
I like them all, personally, but I do prefer staying on-trail for a couple reasons:
1) off-trail bushwacking can damage the environment if done carelessly. Sure, there are times when it's warranted, or when there's a really incredible sight hidden away in the backcountry that can only be accessed by bushwacking, but in general I avoid it.
2) my direction-finding ability is pretty terrible, and it's all too easy for me to get lost if I venture too far off-trail.
My family and I do a lot of dayhikes, but if I am by myself I generally prefer overnighters or weekend excursions.
I definitely agree on the environmental piece. I often hike in well used state/local parks and I figure it sets a better example to not go off trail.
I'm directionally challenged, too! For me to be able to go off trail, I have to know the area really well. And I absolutely agree that you need to be environmentally responsible. Good point!
I like an occasional off-trail ramble. A topographical map and the ability to read and decipher it is a must. A 1:50,000 or larger (lower ratio) is best. Don't use anything smaller than a 1:100,000. Also don't follow in each other's footsteps as this tends to make a trail. Some kinds of surfaces are fragile and should be off limits. Obey local regulations. Don't rely on your sense of direction. Use a compass. I have successfully used a 'slope reading' technique to get through some trees on the way up a mountain. It goes like this: Once I knew where I am on the map and where I wanted to get to, I saw that I would be going steeply uphill to the right of a ridge line and with a drop off to my right. I'd be crossing the contour lines at a 45 with up-slope to my left. If I got too far left, the side slope would reverse direction and if I got too far right, it would get too steep. When I emerged above tree line where I could take a compass bearing, I was right on target. ( caution, not all types of terrain are amenable to this kind of navigation, i. e. relatively flat land lacking prominent topographical features ) A bonus on this hike; I passed within 3 feet of a Spruce Grouse, and the bird remained stock still.
Definitely day hikes at local parks and no off trail to avoid tics. I mostly look for habitat edges to look for birds.
I live in VA and have 500 miles of the AT - in a almost continuous tree tunnel. When I started hiking out west - NO tree tunnels, hiking ANYWHERE with continuous views became my favorite type of hike! And the VA AT became, what I now refer to, my 'training' place. We do have Dolly Sods wilderness (in W VA) and Grayson Highlands, for continuous views, but alas, 6-7hrs driving from my house.
My go to places? Bridger Wilderness, Wy, anywhere in the Sierras, Utah, Grand Canyon.