Hikers will find trails crisscrossing the hillsides all over rural Honduras , created and used for many centuries by local campesinos. Several principal trails, well-beaten and wide, act as “trunk roads” for an area, while smaller footpaths branch off in all directions. Once you arrive at the edges of farming and grazing land, wanting to enter the forest, trails are harder to find and often disappear entirely, used only by the occasional hunter. Sometimes forest trails can be found crossing from one side of the mountains to another, usually over a low pass rather than across the mountaintops, where the thickest forest is invariably found.
A few main trails are marked on the 1:50,000 topographical maps sold by the Instituto Geográfico Nacional. But when faced with the reality of dozens of trails, you will want to have a command of at least basic Spanish to ask directions from locals.
Most valleys, ridgelines, or other logical routes in rural Honduras have a path along them. If an apparently feasible route has no trail, that’s probably for a good reason, like an impassable section out of sight ahead. Real trouble starts when you get off the trail, thinking you know better. Bushwhackers should be fully prepared with topographical maps, a compass, and a sharp machete.
Hiring a local guide is an excellent idea when hiking in Honduras, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, of course, he will relieve you of the difficult task of finding a route. Also, guides are often very good at spotting wild animals (and killing them—they’re usually hunters, which is why they know the forest so well), and if your Spanish is up to it, they can tell you all sorts of interesting information about the forest and region. The best place to find a guide is invariably in the last village at the very end of the dirt road, near the edge of the forest. Sometimes you can ask the local Corporación Hondureña de Desarollo Forestal (COHDEFOR) forestry office for advice on guides, or just start asking around town. Rates are usually around US$10 per day, plus food for the guide.