What Is A Switchback On A Hiking Trail?

A switchback in hiking terms is a trail that zig-zags up a hill or mountain. Instead of climbing steeply up a straight trail, the trail cuts back & forth across the slope at a lesser incline.

Switchback trails are longer than the direct route but not as steep making the climb a little easier.

What is the purpose of switchbacks?

- Originally built for pack animals - Safer for climbing icy trails - Controls soil erosion - Some switchbacks occurred naturally - Makes trails more accessible

Which Is Better – Switchback Trails Or Direct Straight Line Route?

It depends on your fitness level and how much time you have. Hiking straight up is always going to be a lot tougher.

Hiking Tips For A Switchback Trail

- Start early to avoid being benighted or caught out by afternoon thunderstorms on a hot day. - Climb at your own pace and rest when you need to. It’s not a race.

Switchback Trail For Mountain Bikes

On natural trails, switchbacks enable mountain bikers to ride the ascent without getting off to push or carry their bikes.

- Heather Park Trail, Washington - Angels Landing, Zion National Park - Barr Trail To Pikes Peak, Colorado - Switchback Railroad Trail, Pennsylvania

Famous Switchback Trails

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