A Guide for the 21st Century

As is the case with most endeavors, this project owes much to those who have gone before: The miners who built these incredible trails, the volunteers who maintain them, the activists who protect them, and the authors who describe them for us. Most of the credit goes to Kelvin Kent, whose expertly researched hiking guides provided the inspiration for this site.


And finally, we owe a bit of gratitude to the animals and hikers who trample the vegetation and pack the soil to keep the tracks visible or make new tracks that lead to new spectacular vistas. New and easily accessible technology adds a different perspective to exploring the high country and is the foundation of this project.



Yet so many of the trails have partially faded away or lead to some obscure mine you may not want to visit. That’s where a bit of guidance by those who have been there before can be helpful in avoiding obstacles and redundant scouting. This guidance can save energy that might otherwise be expended on backtracking and makes it available to climb a ridge or peak – or to get back before the storm hits.


Some outdoor enthusiasts find particular joy in exploring off the beaten path. Following game trails in the wilderness and discovering how expertly these tracks are laid out by the “local residents”, climbing a ridge, or scouting a creek, adds a new dimension to hiking. A GPS receiver will make it easier to maintain perspective and to expeditiously find your way back out of the wilderness.


This project is “data driven”, implying that trail descriptions and explanations are kept to a minimum. Instead, the endeavor takes advantage of the virtually unlimited storage available on the Internet to illustrate the scenery along a particular trail with pictures, the difficulty of a hike with elevation profiles, and to support the navigation with GPS data. The emphasis is on exploring off the beaten path, either by straying off a well-established trail, by wandering around in trail-less landscapes, or by skiing and snowshoeing in untracked snow.


After discovering the magic of GPS navigation while compiling maps for a guidebook, I took my GPS receiver along on most of my hikes. It soon became apparent that waypoints and coordinates were not as practical, useful, or comprehensive as the tracks that got automatically recorded by the device. These tracks are sometimes called “breadcrumb trails”, and for good reason. The tracks provide such easy and accurate guidance in a trail-less wilderness that the hikers’ attention can be focused on scenery, flowers, and historical features. I intend to share these tracks with fellow hikers and hope that they in turn might also contribute to this project.

This guide aspires to complement the many fine books and maps that guide hikers into the spectacular scenery of the San Juan Mountains.


Jorg Angehrn, Ridgway