About Hiking Guy (aka Cris Hazzard)
I’m Hiking Guy, aka Cris Hazzard. I like to get outdoors, walk, and then write about it. It wasn’t always like that though.
As a kid, I played outside like everyone else in my generation. I didn’t have an especially outdoorsy childhood experience. We rode BMX bikes around, got into trouble, and then tried to get out of it. As a teenager and “young adult” I was an elite bike racer. Like Lance Armstrong, without the doping and bullying.
Then I graduated college. And life happened. And by life, I mean work. As the years went on, my fitness level went down, as did my health and happiness. Thousands of hours in front of computer screens started to take their toll.
When life zigged, I zagged, and decided to take a survival course. I went into the woods with nothing but a knife, the clothes on my back, and an open mind. I learned that I could live off the land. I had a blast. I felt renewed, connected, and energized. I realized that a connection with nature was vital to my happiness and well being.
If you look at it objectively, humans have been around for about 200,000 years. That’s 200,000 years of being outside, intimately connected with the earth, sun, and stars. The culture of staring at screens all day has been around for about 20 years. So for 99.9999% of our existence, our DNA was wired to do something else than what it does now.
Getting back to “real” life, I went back to work, but made getting outside on a regular basis a priority. Hiking and camping was the perfect way to keep my connection with nature alive. And it provided a nice low-impact workout with lots of fresh air and vitamin D. I noticed that I was much happier (they’ve found that 2 hours a week in nature significantly boosts your health too). Hiking every weekend provided a healthy way to balance out my life.
I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.
— Henery David Thoreau
My goal for this website is to make hiking simple, easy, and safe. Too many people look at the outdoors as a danger zone of killer bears, hypothermia, and blisters.
My hike directions make your time on the trail simple and straightforward by giving you images of every turn. This let’s you mentally visualize what the hike will be like, and remove any uncertainty that may cause fear.
I also review the essential hiking gear that will keep you safe and happy on the trail. Along with gear reviews are tips and techniques on how to hike. Knowledge is power amigos.
My hope is that as more that people enjoy the outdoors, the more they’ll share that joy, and the more happy people they’ll be in the world. And from that will come respect, care, and stewardship of the earth.
Here’s How to Get Started
It’s pretty simple. Just go for a walk in nature. If you don’t have wilderness nearby, find a park. If you want some beginner’s tips on how to hike, read this article on how to get started.
Another great resource is the 52 Hike Challenge website. The idea is simple. Go for a hike every week and see how it changes you. They’re good people.
People ask me questions. Here are some answers.
What boot/backpack/GPS/whatever do you use?
I have a full list of my gear here.
What’s your favorite place to hike?
I love hiking in Switzerland. In 1997 I lived there for a year and did a ton of hikes. I hope to revisit them and post them on the site.
These days I love hiking anywhere in San Bernardino National Forest, with Cucamonga Peak and Ontario Peak being my favorites.
What’s your least favorite place to hike?
Well, I don’t have a specific place, but I really hate hiking anywhere with crowds. So this means the popular hikes. I love hiking alone with my thoughts or with a select friend or two. When I do hikes that are popular, I do them at sunrise to avoid the crowds.
What’s the hardest hike you’ve ever done?
I’ve done some pretty intense hikes in New Zealand after rains where I was shin-deep 12 inches of mud with every step. That was really hard. I don’t have those hikes on the blog. You don’t need to do them.
In recent history, I’d say Cactus to Clouds, followed by Mt Whitney
Do you do guided hikes?
Yes, I do private custom hikes. I don’t lead mass group hikes like the ones you find on Meetup.
How do you grade the difficulty of a hike?
For difficulty, it’s always tough because it depends on so many factors like fitness and conditions. In general, this is the scale:
- Easy – generally flat and/or short, doable by everyone.
- Moderate – some challenges like hills or conditions make this more challenging than just a walk in the woods.
- Hard – a tough hike that is generally long and/or includes a lot of climbing.
- Very Hard – a hike that exceptionally difficult, often taking over 10 hours, involving extraordinary amounts of climbing, and/or very challenging conditions.
Have you ever gotten lost hiking?
Thousands of times. I use a GPS watch with a GPX track loaded, printed directions, a map, and GaiaGPS (with offline maps on my iPhone) to make sure that getting lost simply means turning around and retracing my steps. If I get into real trouble, I carry a satellite text message device and an emergency GPS beacon.
What is “total ascent” in the hike info?
Just knowing the highest elevation on a hike doesn’t give you a good sense of how much total climbing there is. Often trails have a lot of up and down along the way. “Total ascent” is the total amount of climbing that you’ll do on the hike. The figure I have is a rough approximation based on the route. There are a lot of variables involved in the calculation. I calculate the figure by removing any abnormalities in my recorded GPX file, and then apply a 8m vertical elevation threshold. This article on GPSVisualizer does a good job of explaining it all.
What outdoors school did you go to?
I went to Tom Brown’s Tracker School. Tom Brown has a bit of a cult-like following, which I’m not really into. But the class is solid and you will learn a lot. Tom Brown has written some great narratives and outdoor guides.
Do you also go backpacking?
I haven’t done any long trips like the AT or PCT (yet!), but I do occasionally do 2-4 day trips. Have a good trip that I should check out? Let me know about it.
How did you start your website?
I started with a WordPress theme and started sharing. As time went on, I evolved the website based on your feedback into what it is now.
Is this your full-time job?
In May of 2019 I left my job of 13 years to go all-in on HikingGuy. My goal is to get more great guides up for everyone. I also started the Hiking T-Shirt Store and continue to offer private guided hikes.. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (and just write a note so I know you’re not some random spammer).
How long does it take to write a post?
Usually it takes anywhere from 20 to 80 hours. There’s a lot of research and prep that goes into every guide. Gear reviews take an especially long time.
What about guest blogging?
I’m not currently accepting posts by guest bloggers, but I will do guest blog on other sites. I also won’t accept any paid links.
Can I link to your site?
Please do! Links to HikingGuy.com are great. Copying content is not. If you want to quote my content, please attribute my site and link back to me.
Will you write an article for my publication? Can I quote you or interview you for an article?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I have appeared in publications as diverse as the LA Times, Chowhound, and Pelican Hill Magazine. I’m happy to assist in your research or pen an article.
How do you decide what to review?
I only review what I use and like. I choose my gear by doing research on REI, Amazon, and other blogs. I don’t post reviews for gear that doesn’t meet the cut.
I read your guide and I’m having tech problems with gear…
I’m not able to help folks with their tech troubleshooting. There’s so many variables involved that it’s usually not as easy as a simple answer and would require a lot of back and forth. I try to post support resources at the end of every tech review so that you can turn to community experts for help.
Do you do press trips?
I’m always looking for great new hikes to cover and am happy to consider any press trip offer. Please see my media kit.
Will you review my hiking gear?
I will only recommend gear that I personally use and love. If you have something that you think might fit the bill, and it’s sold on REI.com, feel free to reach out and I’ll give it a try. If it works well and I think my readers will find value in it, I’m happy to recommend it.
Do you work with brands?
Maybe, you can take a look at my media kit and see if there’s a fit.
Can I contact you?
Yes (as long as you read the previous solicitation guidelines). I welcome any:
- updates to my hike guides
- surfacing any errors on the site
- improvements that can make
- feedback and thank you notes!
I do try to answer any questions that you might have but please know that I get a lot of messages and am not able to answer all of them in a timely manner. I do write back to everyone though, just not right away.
How do I stay in touch with updates?
- The most reliable way to stay in touch is by subscribing to a an email that I send out every quarter or so. I just cover new hikes, any important hiking world updates, and new gear that I might be using.
- You can subscribe to my YouTube channel for hike and gear guides. I have over 1.5 million views, the guides are helpful!
- I post images from the trails on my Instagram account.
- Stay in touch with content updates by following me on Facebook. I’m not really on there much but try to keep the feed updated with new hikes.