Part of the fun of going out on a hike is the adventure. Or even the potential for adventure. There's nothing more thrilling than planning your hike using nothing but a trail and a topographic map. Sitting at a table, maps in hand, plotting out how long your trip will take, whether you'll do a loop or balloon configuration, and what to bring in your pack. Using a trail-guide book like the ones mentioned on this website can offer advice and tips as to what the best route may be, but it's really up to you to create your own adventure. The satisfaction you get after completing a successful hike that you plotted yourself - it is a wonderful feeling.