It was was back in 2005 that the PAHikes website first appeared on the World Wide Web. What started out as a way to share hiking experiences with family and friends soon turned into a valuable resource for many hikers. Fast forward to the year 2015 and we are celebrating our ten year anniversary. A lot of things have occurred over the past ten years. Let's take a look at some of the changes over the years and see what is planned for this decennial anniversary.
I was reintroduced to hiking in 2003 with a long day hike on the Black Forest Trail. In 2004 I ventured out with some friends on three backpacking trips. At the time there were other friends that had previously did some backpacking but had not been out for a couple of years. I decided to start sharing pictures and a short write-up of our adventures in the hopes that they would be inspired to join us.
In 2005 I started to hike more, doing three dayhikes in April of that year. As I looked on the Internet trying to find suggestions and ideas for hikes I found that online resources were lacking. Most websites just referred me to a book for details on hikes to do. It was then that I decided to re-position PAHikes.com as more than a photo sharing site for family and friends. In May of 2005 I posted my first hike with maps, elevation profiles, hike statistics, as well as photos and a narrative describing the hike.
As 2005 progressed, I continued to write about hikes that I had done, with each entry including all the information that a person would need to find the trailhead and experience the hike. Soon others were finding and using PAHikes.com. By the end of 2005 I had over 1000 visitors to the website since I launched the website in May of that year!
In 2007 the website had its first face lift. The looks changed a bit, but a lot was happening on the backend. New features and the use of dynamic pages made the website more beneficial for visitors and easier to update. By the end of 2007, we had over 27,000 visitors to the website in that year.
The website was moved to a Content Management System in late 2009. Then in 2010 the sister site, The Hiking Spot, an online hiking retail store, shut down and the maps and guidebooks were offered for sale on PAHikes.com. An upgrade to the Content Management System and another refresh to the website was done in 2012.
After ten years, PAHikes.com now helps over 100,000 hikers a year in planning, researching and discovering their next trail to hike. Since its launch over a half million people have visited the website. There are currently over 180 different hikes listed, focusing on 30 different major trails, state forests and regions. Centered mostly on trails found in Central Pennsylvania, PAHikes has hikes for all parts of Pennsylvania, from the southwest corner near Ohiopyle State Park, following the Allegheny Front, and including hikes on the Allegheny Plateau as well as in the Poconos. You'll even find a few hikes posted for areas outside of Pennsylvania, such as Acadia National Park in Maine, South Carolina and West Virginia, as well as a few walks in the British Isles.
PAHikes.com allows others to share their thoughts and hiking experiences. Each hike permits the posting of comments and a new section launched in 2014, Community @ PAHikes, is designed so individuals can post their write-ups on hikes that they have done, along with photos and maps if they wish. The Trail Shop on PAHikes offers printed trail guides, hiking books, and maps for those that still prefer to have something tangible in their hands.
For 2015, we have a few things planned. Using KickStarter, we are running a project in the hopes of publishing a special, limited edition of Circuit Hikes in Rothrock State Forest, Second Edition. This limited edition will contain full color photos and color maps of 34 circuit hikes. This will make a nice keepsake for commemorating the ten year anniversary of PAHikes. We will also be running a number of contests through out the year to help celebrate this occasion. A personal goal for this upcoming year is to exceed 200 posted hikes. Also, more hikes into different areas of the state is on the list of planned achievements.
We hope you have had an opportunity to use and enjoy PAHikes over the decade. What started out as a way to share photos with family and friends has evolved into a valuable resource for many Pennsylvania hikers. Here's hoping that the next ten years will be as much fun as the past ten years.