Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are many hiking websites. The Hoppy Hikers is a blog of our favorite hikes with some notes about the trail and lots of photos. Pete carries a large (and heavy) digital SLR with large (and heavy) lenses to take photos of the trail, scenery, wildlife, and views from the summit. Many other sites have excellent details about the hike but not many photos. The Hoppy Hikers also believe following a hike we should celebrate with a cold micro brew. We plan to include brief descriptions and lots of photos of our favorite hikes and beers.

Before you hit the trail, make sure your gear and equipment still fit and are in good working order. Nothing will spoil a great hike faster than having the wrong equipment. We recommend the following gear for day hiking:

  • Shoes/boots: Proper footwear will provide great traction and make your hike safe and comfortable. We really like Danner boots. Pete loves his Danner Mountain Light Cascade and Kathy believes her Mountain 600 Leafs are the most comfortable hiking shoes she has ever worn. REI and other outdoor equipment stores have a great selection and knowledgeable folks who can help you find the perfect pair. 
  • Socks: Avoid cotton socks! Wool or wool-blend socks will keep your feet drier and help reduce friction (and blisters). We like Smartwool and Darn Tough wool socks.
  • Day pack/hydration packs: A quality pack is a great way to carry, lunch, snacks, trail guide, maps, first aid kit, and a change of clothes and socks. Hydration packs also include a 2-3 liter water reservoir. The team at REI has a great selection and they can help you find a comfortable pack that fits properly and has the right amount of storage.
  • Trekking Poles: Kathy is a big fan of trekking poles. They provide increased stability and reduce the pain on her knees. Pete likes a hiking staff with a screw-mount to hold his camera.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers for warms and comfort. We like a base layer t-shirt of either merino wool or synthetic material. Over the base layer we like a heavier long-sleeve shirt of a wool/synthetic blend. Depending on the weather, our top layer is either a parka, windbreaker, or sweatshirt. Kathy likes soft-shell pants which are made from synthetic fabrics and are water-resistant which are breathable and shed light rain and snow and dry quickly when they get wet. Pete prefers soft-shell shorts or long pants depending on the weather and poison ivy. 
  • We really like our Outdoor Research (OR) Trail Mix hoodies. The thermo-regulating technology manages body temperature to keep us cool, dry, and comfortable during our hikes. The synthetic material is breathable, quick drying, and moisture wicking. It provides 30 UPF sun protection and has plenty of warmth for cool mornings and cold weather hikes. Best of all, it is light weight and easily fits into our packs when the day warms up.
  • Hats, gloves, and rain gear “just in case” fit easily in our packs.

The National Park Service recommends hikers carry “Ten Essentials” on every hike:

  1. NAVIGATION – Map, compass, and GPS system
  2. SUN PROTECTION – Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat
  3. INSULATION – Jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, and thermal underwear
  4. ILLUMINATION – Flashlight, lanterns, and headlamp
  5. FIRST-AID SUPPLIES – First Aid Kit
  6. FIRE – Matches, lighter and fire starters
  7. REPAIR KIT AND TOOLS – Duct tape, knife, screwdriver, and scissors
  8. NUTRITION – Food
  9. HYDRATION – Water and water treatment supplies
  10. EMERGENCY SHELTER – Tent, space blanket, tarp, and bivy

Be sure that you know your hiking route before you get out on the trail. At state and national parks, knowledgeable Rangers are happy to help you find an appropriate trail. They also have maps and can help you find the trail head. Many web sites have trail reviews and maps.

A compass and a GPS can also help to keep you on track. Apps such as AllTrails and Gaia GPS can be downloaded to your phone and you can use a map even if you don’t have a cell signal. Many of our recommended hikes are in remote areas with limited or no cell service. We download our trail maps before we leave home and make sure we charge our phones as we drive to the trail head. We switch our phones to airplane mode to avoid depleting the battery while we hike. 

Even though your phone has a compass, flashlight, GPS, etc., use it only as an emergency communication device while hiking. A small flashlight and compass will easily fit in your pack and help preserve your phone’s battery.

AllTrails and Gaia GPS are great tools to help plan your hike and to keep you on the correct trail. Both have a basic no-cost service with simple maps. The free version of AllTrails has limited support without cell service while the Free Gaia app does allow for recording and map viewing without service. However, some of the less popular trails may not be on the “map” so your red line will appear on a solid white background and you won’t know which direction to go.

Consider the Pro version of AllTrails. It’s only a few dollars a month and you can download detailed trail maps if you don’t have cell service on your hike you can still view the maps and record the stats for your hike. An annual membership with Gaia GPS is about $20 and allows you to download maps and record hikes. Some users believe the Gaia maps are more detailed than AllTrails. We like AllTrails as the online community is very robust and is a great source of information when planning a hike.

Many great hiking websites have been around for years. Why does the world need another hiking web site? Only the Hoppy Hikers provide great trail and beer recommendations! Here are some of our favorite hiking websites:

Excellent question. We believe any microbrew is great after a hike. Don’t get us started on the BIG breweries. We try to find a local, craft brewery near the hike. However, sometimes there isn’t a local brewery. In that situation, try to find a pub or restaurant with draft beer and good food. Failing that, we take poetic license and “pair” the hike with some cans of craft beer on ice in the Yeti. Life is too short to drink bad beer. So please, don’t drink and drive and don’t drink crappy, mass produced, national beer. Support the little guys.

Our friend Rylie loves to hike and she also loves a cold beverage post-hike. She prefers to sip her beer at a brewery, pub, or restaurant less than 30 minutes from the trailhead. Ideally, the brewery should also have amazing views, outdoor seating, great food, and be dog friendly. Whenever possible, we try to abide by the Rylie Rule. Unfortunately, some trailheads are in the middle of nowhere and there are few signs of civilization within 30 minutes let alone a brewery. Sorry Rylie.

Even the best hiking website will be useless if you don’t have cell service. Hiking books provide detailed trail information and maps for many of our favorite destinations. Best of all, the book will fit easily inside a pack. Here are just a few of our favorites:

  • Top Trails: Shenandoah National Park, by Johnny Molloy
  • Hiking North Carolina’s National Forests, by Johnny Molloy
  • AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Shenandoah Valley, by Jennifer Adach & Michael Martin
  • Exploring the Appalachian Trail: VA & WV, by David Lillard & Gwyn Hicks
  • Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Randy Johnson
  • Hiking Shenandoah National Park, by Bert & Jane Gildart
  • Roanoke and the New River Valley Five-Star Trails, by Johnny Molloy
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Richmond, by Philip Riggan and Nathan Lott

We record every hike with Gaia and AllTrails on our iPhones. The distance and elevation are almost always different even when measured on the same device. We average the measurements too arrive at our published statistics. We have found our averages are usually within 10% of the values published on other sites. Please treat the distances and elevation gains as estimates. Your actual mileage may vary.

We list the approximate distance and elevation gain for each hike. We decided not to include an estimated hiking time as some people are much faster hikers while others of us prefer to take our time and enjoy the scenery (and take lots of photos). We do include a very general rating of the overall difficulty of the hike. 

Moore Misadventures provides an easy way to estimate the difficulty of a hike. When deciding how “hard” a hike will be, you typically measure elevation by the mile, which gives a ballpark idea of how steep it will be. 

How to measure elevation per mile:
Divide the roundtrip mileage by two, then divide that number by the elevation gain. Here’s an example for a 4 mile round trip out-and-back hike with 1,000 elevation gain: 
4 miles divided by 2 = 2 miles (we’re dividing it by 2 because you’ll be hiking up for two miles and gaining elevation, then going down)
Divide 1,000 ft. of elevation gain by 2 miles = 500 ft. gain per mile. Conclusion: This is a moderate hike.

General Elevation Guidelines
200-400 feet per mile |  Easy
400-700 feet per mile  |  Moderate
700-1,000 feet per mile  |  Difficult
1,000+ feet per mile  |  Challenging

Keep in mind that elevation gain per mile is most helpful for shorter hikes (3-8 mile range) but can be a bit deceiving for longer hikes. These are just guidelines. Caveat Emptor!

 Pete is the primary photographer. He lugs a Nikon D850 with several lenses on nearly all of our hikes. He also brings a Sony RV100 model IV if he doesn’t want to carry 10+ pounds of camera equipment. Kathy brings her iPhone and gets some really good images. Update: Pete now has a mirrorless (and light-weight) Nikon Z5 which he loves. After the hike, we review the photos (over a beer of course), pick the best ones, postprocess, and post to our blog

Kathy had been experiencing pain in her knees during some of our hikes. A Physical Therapist friend suggested some pre and post-hike stretches. The PT suggested Kathy’s iliotibial band (IT band) might be the likely culprit. The PT recommended the braces Kathy wears and they really have made a tremendous difference. If you experience knee or hip pain while hiking, especially when hiking downhill, ask your doctor or therapist about IT band braces. 

As much as we like beer, always enjoy your beer after you finish your hike. We all know not to drink and drive. It is equally important not to drink alcohol and hike. Many of our favorite hikes involve waterfalls, steep inclines, and uneven terrain—all of which are best navigated without alcohol in your system. Bring and drink plenty of water but please celebrate completing your hike with a great beer and never drink and drive. 

We recommend hiking with one or more partners for safety on the trail. This also provides your group with a designated driver. Enjoy the great outdoors and enjoy the fine beers produced by many local breweries. But please, hike and drink responsibly.

All outdoor recreational activities have a higher level of risk than many other activities and can be potentially hazardous and/or dangerous. This includes hiking and backpacking. Risk is always a factor in backcountry and wilderness travel, especially when weather is adverse or unpredictable or when unforeseen events or conditions create hazardous situations. There are many other risks, both natural and man-made, that could lead to injury or even death while hiking.

Outdoor recreation, backcountry hiking, presents participants with a number of potentially dangerous and possibly lethal hazards, including lightning, falling rocks, landslides floods, snow and ice, falling trees etc. Many of the trails described cross terrain with exposed rock surfaces, uneven terrain, cliffs and scrambles where fatal falls are possible. The trails described on this site are also home to wildlife that may be potentially dangerous. It is the responsibility of the users of this website to learn the necessary skills for safe hiking and backcountry travel, be in the proper physical condition, and carry the appropriate gear and supplies while hiking any trail. 

All users of this website must assume full responsibility for their own actions and personal safety while hiking on any trail. All users of this website must also exercise sound judgment, be prepared for all weather and wilderness conditions, and seek advice from a local park or forest ranger on current trail conditions and wildlife warnings before venturing out onto any trail. Hiking trails and backcountry conditions change from day to day, and from season to season, therefore rendering any information on this website subject to change without warning.

Although the authors of The HoppyHikers.com try to make the information contained on this website as accurate as possible, as well as to identify potential hazards on some of the trails, they disclaim any liability for accident, loss, injury, inconvenience, or any other damage that may be sustained by anyone using the information contained on this website. Those who use this information, and those who venture into backcountry wilderness, do so at their own risk. You are solely responsible for using your own judgment in interpreting and using this information to safely enjoy your own outdoor pursuits.

The information contained on this website is summative in nature and is not to be considered a guide nor is it intended to replace trail maps and outdoor skills. Instead, it is intended to provide a general idea of what to expect on the hikes listed on this site. The authors take no responsibility, nor assume any liability for errors, omission, inaccuracies, or incompleteness of any information. TheHoppyHikers.com and others who contribute information to this site shall not be held liable for any property damage, inconvenience, rescues, accidents, injuries, or loss of life should you undertake any of the hikes listed on this website.

We do not condone drinking alcoholic beverages before or during outdoor activities, including hiking. As mentioned above, outdoor activities can be potentially dangerous and consuming alcohol before or during a hike significantly increases the risk of serious injury and death. Please enjoy beer and other alcoholic beverages responsibly following a hike. Many parks and natural areas prohibit alcoholic beverages and these regulations must be followed. Drink only in appropriate areas and always have a designated driver. Never drink and hike and don’t drink and drive.

The photographs, images, and descriptions contained on this website are copyright 2021 by the owners of The Hoppy Hikers, all rights reserved.