Hit the trails early or late.

Generally speaking, your region’s popular trails will become crowded by tourists seeking a local hotspot for their outdoor activities. Combine that with regulars, and you’ll find these trails crowded very quickly. The key is to hit the trails before the vacationers awake and start checking items off their vacation itinerary. That way, you’ll be done with your hike before most other people even finish their breakfast, let alone set foot on the trails.

Hike out of season.

For many, the point of hiking during Autumn is to take in the beautiful colors, but if you go during prime Fall color viewing season, odds are you’ll have company. If you enjoy taking in the seasonal color changes, it’s smart to do so just before these changes kick into full gear, or as the season is winding down. This way you’ll avoid the crowds, but still have a good chance of experiencing the seasonal beauty.

Hike during the week, not weekends.

For any outdoorsman—angler or hunter included—this is obvious. If you can, plan your hikes for the year well ahead of time. This way you can take time off work without heaping a sick day on your boss on short notice.

Choose lesser-known trails.

To get a better idea of some local trails that may be less traveled, talk with locals, including places like bait shops and ranger offices. Also, you can search online through outdoors forums. Feel free to ask for trail suggestions, or even share your own tips; most of the time, forum users, especially outdoorsmen, are polite and generous.

Hike even when it’s not sunny.

To avoid crowds, sometimes you have to put on your rain gear and enjoy the natural environment on a cloudy day. If you do, though, it’s best to wear waterproof boots with a lot of grip, to keep from slipping on mud or wet leaves. You’ll find that hiking in this kind of weather makes for more of a workout, which also makes that well-deserved dinner at the end of the day taste that much better.

While being around people is a part of life, there’s nothing wrong with a desire to actually enjoy nature without worrying about crowds scaring away deer or leaving a mess on the trail. Today’s tips will help you find a little more serenity during your next venture to the woods, so keep them in mind if that’s what you’re after.