Tap Local Knowledge
Get better beta than a guidebook delivers by leveraging the whole outdoor community.
Search Google Earth and panoramio.com for geotagged photos along your chosen route; they can reveal detailed info on campsites, vistas, and water sources.
Comb Google Images, YouTube, and Vimeo to get a sense of trail conditions (“Grandview Trail winter”) and ideal gear (are others using ice axes or trekking poles?).
Follow the official Twitter feeds of national parks and forests to get up-to-the-minute info on road closures, weather conditions, and even wildlife or wildflower updates.
Check trip reports on regional sites like trailsnh.com (NH), wta.org (WA), and 14ers.com (CO). You might find out exactly how much snow is left or whether the foliage has peaked from someone who hiked your trail yesterday.
Pro Tip Create a seamless topo map of your route, and have it printed on water-resistant paper and shipped to you within 48 hours ($10 and up; backpacker.com/maps)