March 4

Off Trail Hiking Tips

Many of Gossamer Gear’s Trail Ambassadors like hiking off trail. It’s actually quite easy to get hooked once you try it. I decided to ask a few of them why they like hiking off trail or bushwhacking, as it’s called back east. Here’s what they had to say.

Hiking Off Trail

Hiking in the Weminuche Wilderness

Will Rietveld – My backyard is the Weminuche Wilderness in southwest Colorado, the largest wilderness area in the state. Since its close I hike there a lot. Frankly, I find trail hiking a bit boring, but trails are handy to get to “the good stuff” – alpine areas, where I love to wander and explore. Ironically, it seems like 95% of wilderness users stay on trails (carrying heavy packs), but that leaves a lot of pristine wilderness for more adventurous (and enlightened) types. I love to plan routes and then see if they go through; usually they do. For me, it’s an addiction, I simply love being there to revel the serene beauty, explore the nooks and crannies, and enjoy the physical challenge. Hiking off trail is not easy, I hike and camp above 12,000 feet and typically do 4000 feet of elevation gain in a day while hiking through high passes, crossing slide rock, and some scrambling. Needless to say, an ultralight backpack makes this a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. As a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and US Forest Service volunteer wilderness ranger, I get to share my passion for the wilderness and UL backpacking whenever I encounter other hikers, which is usually when I am hiking a section of trail.

Big Horn Sheep
“Big Horn Sheep that I came across on a off trail desert trek. I’ve never been that close to these reclusive animals before” – Jim Barbour

Be sure to check out part 2 of this article