Many of our outings this year have been made possible by information found in guidebooks at our local public library. Topo maps give you the lay of the land and are also useful for planning, but they don’t include many of the important details. What trails are available in a particular area? How difficult are they? Where will I most likely find water or a good campsite? How do I get to the trailhead? These questions and more are often answered in a good guidebook, and help to make your outdoor outings safer and more enjoyable.
I was able to borrow several guide books for the west coast states in my library’s travel section for free. Some books gave me ideas for possible future trips, others I only picked one or two hikes, and some were for areas I was not likely to visit again for a long time. It was nice to be able to return these to the library when I was done, as there was no sense in storing them. Other guidebooks proved to be helpful from cover to cover, and may be purchased in the future. Again, it was nice to be able to try-before-you-buy.
Some benefits of a guidebook:
- Cover a wide area, so you’re likely to discover trails you didn’t know about.
- Trailhead directions.
- Helpful maps.
- Descriptions of difficulty levels: mileage, elevation, terrain.
- Mile-by-mile walk through, with tips for locating turn-offs or other hard to find places.
- Where you’re likely to find the best camping or water source.
- Descriptions of the local flora and fauna.
- History of the area.
- Red Tape: Fees, permits, quotas, etc.
I should also mention that I found many other outdoor books at my local library as well, with such topics as hiking, fishing, cycling, mountaineering, and climbing. If you haven’t been to your library for a while, you may be surprised at what you find!