You have a clear day or two in your diary, the weather looks good, and you are all set to get outside and explore. But then the big question: where to go?
Finding a hike that is accessible to you through driving or transport, your hiking confidence, and the kind of challenge you are after can be daunting, and at times, frustrating. Ensuring you have properly researched your hike, have access to maps, and are aware of trail conditions is also incredibly important to ensure your safety, and most importantly, your enjoyment.
So where do you begin? Sure, Broadsheet might have posted the ‘Top 10 Best Hikes for Spring’, but where can you find the real details?
Here are some online resources to get you started in finding your next adventure.
This website is a great resource for finding hikes not only in Victoria, but across Australia. Hikes are recorded on the site by community members, who upload the trail route, description, and location. Information provided can vary, but all hikes include the grade, distance, and estimated time as a minimum.
I find the best way to use this website is through the map function. This allows you to see hikes on the map, so you can zoom in on the location you are thinking of going and see if there are any hikes in the area. The grade is also clearly marked, so you can steer away from those grade 5 hikes!
Trail Hiking has also recently introduced a new feature that aims to capture the accessibility of hikes! This includes whether trails can be accessed by public transport, if they are wheelchair accessible, have accessible bathrooms, or appropriate for prams.
Most national, state and regional parks in Victoria have a page on the Parks Victoria website. Bigger parks will also have park notes as a downloadable PDF, which may include maps, hiking trails, and camping information.
The Parks Victoria website is always worth checking for information on park closures and updates.
You better believe there is an app for this. Wikiloc is a GPS map sharing community, where members can record and log their trail route and share it online. Once shared, other members can follow these marked trails in lieu of a map.
Admittedly I have not had personal experience of using Wikiloc (due to my iPhone being about four generations old), but have heard great reviews about it from fellow MGO members on hikes.
You can download Wikiloc through the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Sometimes the information online through other websites might not be clear enough, particularly for more challenging, less popular, or remote hikes. This is where hiking blogs can be a great resource. A number of dedicated outdoor explorers have set up public blogs to detail their personal experience of hikes around Melbourne, each with their own personal spin.
I have referred to hiking blogs a number of times for hikes such as the Scenic Rim at Lerderderg Gorge, and the Island at Werribee Gorge, where I struggled to find the level of information I was after in the lead up to an MGO event.
Some hiking blogs I recommend checking out are: The Hiking Society, The Bushwalking Blog, and Hiking Fiasco.
Maps and books
Like… a physical map? Yep!
Earlier this year I spent three days hiking across the Bogong High Plains with my family, and we had nothing but my brother’s laminated topographical map to guide us. It was actually an incredibly rewarding experience to navigate our way through a remote part of the world with no phones or electronic GPS to guide us.
Most outdoor stores such as Bogong Equipment, Paddy Palin, etc offer dedicated hiking guides/books and topographical maps for larger national parks.
Melbourne Girls Outside
I consider the MGO community to be an amazing resource of ideas, inspiration and advice for pursuing the outdoors. Referring to our past events on Meetups can offer some ideas for new hikes, and of course interacting with our online community through Facebook is always a great idea.
Now go forth and explore!
If you have any further suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!