I see a lot of Posting on “where to go…” – when I am searching for somewhere to go this is kind of the flowchart of my mind and actions…
The the research is the most important part. I never stop at just one site and say that is the trip for me… I google it and search images … mapping it out both on google and hillmap are important steps also … as you can get a feel for the hike or the camp site.
When I am heading towards an area new for me and want to find a hike or backpack… I go thru the whole process : i.e. Westcliffe – heading there soon for a trip….wanted to find a hike, I started at the NFS site for the Rio Grande NF,… Recreation….Hiking… then looked at each trail, ruled out 60 % from their descriptions of how long or short the trip was, Found a few trails to research and then between googling and looking at different trail reports and images And THEN mapping it out found a few which had no water available, others had no draw (just a walk in the woods) and a couple which met all my requirements…. Millset Trail about 3.5 miles each way… water at the end… mining cabins, nice meadows… total time to research and decide about 3 hours… but also have 4 other hikes in the area I have data on for the future….
I’ve spent countless hours researching almost exactly as you’ve described, but I’ve never heard of hillmap.
Route finding for my adventures is almost as much fun (in a different way) for me as the adventure as I start to envision the terrain and surrounding scenery. Google Earth is invaluable for this aspect of my planning.
http://www.hillmap.com/ is the best free map program I have ever use… switch between road and topo then over to satellite to get a full picture of a trail and camp site… Also download GPS waypoints, check on a point then to peak finder to see what peaks you can see at that Point… or click weather and get a forecast for that exact point not the nearest town! I lay out my trips then cut and paste it into word docs with additional info…. Once you have downloaded the GPX you can open it in google earth… use with overlays to see snow depth …
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