Skip to Content

Types of Hiking Trails

Types of Hiking Trails

When looking for a trail to hike, information is going to be key to determining how hard a hike may be.

Guides will through out elevation, duration, what to pack, and what kind of trail the hike will be.

In this post, I’ll break down the three major types of trails and what to expect from them so that when you see them pop up on guides, you’ll have a better understanding of what they mean.

The three major types of trails include Loop, Point to Point (also referred to as a through hike), and In and Out (also referred to as out and back). 

We will “tag” the hiking trails on our site with the trail type so if you are looking for a specific trail type in an area, this will help you identify trails of interest.

Types of Hiking Trails

Loop Trail

A Loop Trail is just that, a giant loop.

These trails will have you walk in a giant circle or path that will begin and end at the same point without ever having to double back on the same path.

Loop trails range from a wide variety of distances like the Willow Springs Loop Trail in Red Rock which is a little over a mile long, or the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier National Park which is 93 miles long.

Point to Point Trail 

A Point to Point aka Through Hike trail is basically walking in a line from point A to point B.

On these trails, you usually aren’t covering the same path more than once unless you have to turn around for unknown reasons.

Point to Point trails are usually going to be the longest of the three types of hiking trails reaching distances of over two thousand miles in the case of the Pacific Crest Trail. 

In and Out Trail

Last but not least, the In and Out or Out and Back trail.

These trails seem to be the most common, at least here in Las Vegas, and well-traveled routes for you to enjoy.

Out and Back trails start and finish around the same point with you hiking back to the trailhead using the same trail. They are usually on the shorter end taking no longer than a day to complete.

Nearly all of the trails out at Red Rock Canyon are Out and Back trails and I would even consider the hike to Havasupai Falls an Out and Back trail even though it’s nearly 20 miles in length and is a multi-day experience.

Resources Used

Types of Hiking Trails