Queens Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
Hiking Terms You Need To Know Before Your Next Outdoor Adventure
"Day hikes" are usually short to moderately long walks completed within one day. "Loop hikes" start and finish at the same spot, delivering diverse views without déjà vu.
"Out-and-back hikes" go to a point, then U-turn, whereas "lollipop hikes" begin and end straight, with a loop in the middle. "Shuttle hikes" are linear to waiting transportation.
The "key swap" reflects teamwork among hikers, with two squads starting at opposite points. When they meet midway, they exchange car keys, one finishing where the other began.
"Foot trails" are the most basic type of trail. "Boardwalks" are flat wooden walkways built in wetlands or marshes to protect the area while providing a stable path.
"Interpretive" or "nature trails" educate visitors, usually with signage along the route. "Multi-use trails" accommodate walkers, bikers, and sometimes horseback riders.
"Switchbacks" weave back and forth on a hill, making the slope more gradual and manageable. "Spur trails" are short detours that branch off the main path to a point of interest.
A "blow-down trail" refers to a path obstructed by toppled trees. Storms can create a "slog," a problematic, often muddy or boggy section of a trail.
Trail Conditions
Be cautious of a "washed-out trail," whose erosion can make sections unstable or impassable. "Bushwhacking" is a catch-all phrase for off-trail adventures.
Keeping momentum while climbing is key, but if you need a breather, it's okay to "yield" to a downhill hiker first. On multi-use trails, "right-of-way" is essential.
Horses always have the right of way. Although "wheels yield to heels" is the motto, it's often easier for a hiker to move over and yield to an oncoming bike.
"Leave-no-trace (LNT)" emphasizes minimizing our environmental impact. If there aren't trash bins, take the trash back with you or "pack it in, pack it out."
A topographic map, or "topo," shows elevation changes, hills, and rivers. If you get lost, a "personal locator beacon (PLB)" can send a distress signal to rescue agencies.
A "blaze" is a painted marking or carved notch on trees, rocks, or the ground as a clue to finding the right path. A "cairn" is a human-made stack of stones with the same purpose.