You might suggest the road—or trail—less traveled, but are you really brave enough to venture off the beaten path? TomTom, for one, thinks so, and they’ve launched a new initiative to not only get more people to the parks, but to encourage them to venture from the trails.
They sent us off to Acadia National Park in Maine armed with only the TomTom Adventurer GPS and a keen sense of discovery and quickly turned us into believers, too—here’s why.
You'll have different stories to tell.1 of 8
Why visit a national park only to have all the same experiences as everyone else? Instead, make your own stories that are specific to your trip, which means getting out and seeing new things. Channel your inner explorer and, who knows, maybe you'll find something even better.
While we did our research before setting out, asking for advice on can't-miss locations and the best trails to hike, we did a little bit of our own exploring as well. While Jordan Pond was noted as being "nothing special," it turned out to be the place we came back to on multiple occasions. It's really the perfect setting for all weather. On a clear day, you can see the Bubble Mountains in the distance, while the regularly occurring fog can bring an earie feel and a great mood to any pictures you happen to take.
You can really enjoy nature.2 of 8
By taking the path less traveled, you'll come across less people while hiking. When you're one of the only ones on the trail, it really will just be you and the great outdoors—you'll feel surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of uninterrupted nature. Plus, your chances of seeing skittish wildlife will most likely increase.
From a white-tailed deer eating the foliage off a tree, to a large turkey walking along the roadway, we stumbled upon a number of animals you definitely don't see in the big city—not to mention the many signs of beaver activity all through the park, including dams and chewed up trees.
There are fewer expectations.3 of 8
Those big views come with big expectations. But with unexplored trails, you won't know what to expect when hiking. Will you see a breathtaking view or spot rare wildlife? Who knows? But without these big expectations, you'll be able to enjoy any little thing you might come across and skip the disappointment.
We found small pleasures in rather ordinary occurrences, such as a pair of ducks crossing Jordan Pond through the fog or seeing a bright orange buoy out at sea peeking through the trees, creating a nice contrast in color.
There's no better way to feel like a local.4 of 8
Think about some of the big-name attractions in your hometown or the largest city near you. You probably haven't visited them in years unless you had family or friends in town. But you do know all the hidden gems that tourists only dream of. This same concept goes for when you're the visitor in a new place, including our national parks. It's easy to hit all the well-known spots, but it's the lesser-traveled trails that will leave you coming back for more.
While we hit up the tourist hotspots, such as Thunder Hole and Cadillac Mountain, we also asked locals about their favorite trails in Acadia. Multiple people recommended the Wonderland and Ship Harbor trails, and they did not disappoint. These short hikes take you from the inland right to the cost of Maine, where you're able to overlook the Atlantic Ocean and other harbors in the area.
However, there are also some things to keep in mind when going off the beaten path…
Never hike alone or without telling someone else your plan.5 of 8
If you're hiking on a popular trail, chances are you'll see plenty of other people along the way. But taking a path less frequented means your human contact could be limited.
Making sure you're with another person who can go for help—or letting someone know when you're leaving and when you expect to be back—is important in case the unexpected occurs along the way.
Have a physical map as well as your GPS.6 of 8
Outdoor technology has come a long way. And the TomTom Adventurer is equipped to not only serve your hiking needs, but to also help you go off the beaten path with ease. The device, which can be loaded with select "Off the Beaten Path" trails, can measure your progress, altitude and pace while exploring.
Just make sure to have a physical map as backup to track your progress or find your way back to civilization.
Stay on the Trail7 of 8
OK, we know we said to go off the beaten path, but we don't mean literally unless you're an experienced hiker and know how to navigate without a map. But you can still participate in TomTom's initiative by channeling your inner explorer and taking less frequented trails.