When someone wishes to know the true mettle of a person’s endeavours, it’s not uncommon to hear the age-old question of, ‘Do you walk the walk, or just talk the talk?’
10Hikes.com founder Richard Campbell can easily state he truly does walk the walk, having personally hiked each trail listed on his aforementioned site.
As the site title states, it consists of only the cream of the crop. Ten of the best hikes Campbell and his team have tested, researched and compiled to make an outdoor adventure as pleasant and worry-free as possible for site visitors – and it’s all free.
“We have extensive coverage of the Canadian Rockies, as well as Yosemite, the Tetons, Glacier and Whistler and we hope to add Yellowstone, North Cascades, Rocky Mountain NP and Aspen in Colorado before winter sets in,” said Campbell.
Next year, 10Hikes plans to expand its content in North America, as well as add some great hiking regions in the Alps. The site also offers hiking basics, including gear, difficulty assessments and safety.
“As a member of a Calgary-based hiking club, one thing I noticed is we had problems getting trip information. We were sent links to websites that gave just mediocre information, we had guides bringing us their maps and guidebooks and invariably it just wasn’t very effective,” Campbell said.
“I just thought there should be quality guide information available on the web.”
When he looked further into the lack of quality hiking sites, he realized it wasn’t just a Canadian Rockies problem, it was a problem throughout North America. He saw there was such a need for good quality information you can use that’s available for free, but only focuses on the best hikes.
“With a lot of websites, the goal is to show every hike you can do. But invariably, none of us want to do the bad hikes, we don’t want to spend eight hours in the trees to see a mountain lake, it’s just not worth it,” Campbell said. Since the beginning of 2016, he quit his job and has been building the site ever since.
Being a hiker on every continent except Antarctica and Australia, Campbell still does the majority of his hiking in the Canadian Rockies, so for everything in Western Canada, he’d already hiked it firsthand.
“It was a case of mostly thinking what are the best hikes and talking to some of my friends that have done lots of other hikes and then go out and hike them again with the GPS and camera and take notes,” Campbell said.
“When I had to go down to regions like Yosemite, the Tetons or Yellowstone, I had to gather more information, so I would talk a lot with rangers and ask them what the good hikes are.”
The arduous task also involved asking a lot of other people out hiking, and locals. “You slowly start building a list of the great hikes versus terrible hikes and finally narrow it down to the 10 best in Yellowstone based on all the information we gathered, so we really do all of the legwork to find out where to go.
“In Teton, we found a hike that’s not in any of the guidebooks or maps; one of the rangers told us about a trail that we were blown away by. Teton is pretty busy, but in Hanging Canyon we were the only ones there.”
He added many other websites have unlimited contributors since they’re going for quantity over quality. You could have a contributor who might be a fantastic hiker who puts in 100 days a year on trails and does in three hours what would take another person eight hours.
“Conversely, my parents could submit one and they’re in their 70s. What they do in three hours I can do in 45 minutes,” Campbell said of the lack of clarity found on other hiking sites.
“The nice thing about 10Hikes is we have a same small group of people doing the same hikes, so once you’ve done one you can start to get a feel of where you personally fit in, and there’s very little variability in the way we rate the difficulties and timing as well.”