Monday, 7 December 2009

Tips on setting up a new private hiking trail

There are hiking trails to suit all tastes, but to make its mark, a hike needs more than just good views, good paths and good overnight accommodation. That 'something extra' might be tractor transport to the start, a farm dog which accompanies the hikers, a real farm supper laid on, or an unusual overnight hut.

Of course the choice of route is vital. It needs available water, great views, good places to stop, not too much unnecessary uphill, and above all a route with a purpose. That purpose may be the views, a particular destination like a nek, peak or waterfall, or it may be getting from A to B along an interesting route. Most hikers like variation, so try to include a variety of terrains. Circular routes are usually more popular than ones where you end far away from the carpark at the start.

Related to the route, you need a decent map and route description, and well signposted paths. Local municipalities, the Forestry Department or one of several conservation agencies may be able to help with technical issues like maps and path construction.

To publicise the hike, your first prize would be to get a popular author of hiking books to review your hike, or to include it in a hiking column in a weekend newspaper. Another option would be an article about your trail in Getaway magazine, but that isn't easy to achieve - something in the letters page may be easier. Also check if SAFM has a slot for outdoor adventure in one of its magazine programmes.

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