Internet, guidebooks, outdoor magazines, the local library, experienced hiker friends.
WHEN TO GO?
- In Season: The ideal time weather-wise, but depending on where you are hiking, crowds may be an issue. May not be the best time for those seeking solitude, however it is the optimum period for beginners looking to gain experience.
- Out of Season: No crowds, but weather is usually an issue. Generally requires a higher level of backcountry skill and experience in order to deal with what could potentially be difficult conditions.
- The Shoulder Seasons: Can be an ideal compromise for seasoned hikers wanting to avoid the crowds, but at the same time providing the possibility of good weather.
- Other Contributing Factors: Flora (eg. autumn colours, spring foliage), fauna (eg. migration, mating season) and cultural (eg. ceremonies, festivals).
When hiking abroad, make an effort to educate yourself in regards to local customs and environmental issues. A few words of the local language never go astray. Your hosts will appreciate your efforts.