Tonight I checked my Google Analytics logs and compiled the top 25 hiking blogs most likely to link back to Two-Heel Drive.

They reflect a welcome trend: We’re starting to see a return to the good old days when hiking bloggers linked to each other all time. Each act of linking encouraged more linking, creating a beneficial cycle of goodwill — and Google juice.

Over the past couple years it seemed like so much linking and sharing had gravitated to Facebook and Twitter that it was becoming nigh unto impossible to attract inbound traffic from other bloggers. Now I’m glad to see things are turning around.

Of course the main motivation for linking should be to point out cool content on sites you admire, but there’s another excellent side benefit: the more you link to other sites, the more likely they’ll link back to you. Those inbound links are a huge deal in Google’s eyes. The more you have, the better your site ranks.

These are my top 25 referrers, in order of most traffic they sent in the past 30 days:

1. Hiking Finland
Hendrik Morkel’s week-in-review posts send tons of traffic my way on the times I’m lucky enough to make his list. Best way to catch Hendrik’s attention is to engage him on Twitter, post engaging and original content, and declare him King of the Hiking Bloggers.

2. Best Hike Blog
Rick keeps having amazing adventures in places like Corsica and the Japanese Alps, but he also finds time to link here if I do something that catches his fancy. Rick’s biased in my favor because we let him camp on our back porch once. Or maybe it was twice.

3. The Goat
Rocky Thompson remains positively old-school in his blogging. Still delivers a dependable serving of snark in a format unchanged for over half a decade.

4. Trail Sherpa
We’re starting to get some traction over there — owner Tim is starting to develop suspicions that the Carolina/Tennessee faction is about to take over.

5. Meanderthals
Jeff’s blogging just keeps getting better and better of late.

6. Jolly Green Giant
The Giant had to step back from his hiking & blogging to deal with knee and hand issues; send best wishes for his strong recovery.

7. Hiking the Smokies
The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog crew made an impressive foray to Glacier National Park last month.

8. Live Free and Hike
Karl’s New Hampshire blog continues to have a nice mix of hikes, gear and photography.

9. Trout Underground
If I could afford another hobby I’d be damn tempted to take up fly fishing just to have an excuse to read Tom’s blog every day.

10. Randy’s Waypoints
Randy keeps reading me despite the fact that I haven’t lived in his neck of the woods for over two years. He has tons of great photography on his blog.

11. Section Hiker
Philip keeps bringin’ it — I liked his post awhile back about how he quit the corporate world to get more hikes in.

12. Must Be This Way
Andy Howell over in the UK sparked a huge conversation about commercialism in blogging awhile back (they practically wore me out with their devotion to the intricacies of freeing gear reviews from the taint of commerce).

13. Appalachia and Beyond
Tim’s post linking to a bunch of blogs inspired me to write this one.

14. Free Outdoors
Richard delivers on his decades of hiking wisdom.

15. Modern Hiker
Casey still sets a high bar for Los Angeles-area hiking blogs. He’s getting a lot more competition of late but I don’t think they’re making a serious run at him yet.

16. Mountain UltraLight
I met John through Trail Sherpa, where he’s on our contributor team. You know he’s serious about make-your-own-gear projects when he talks about building backpacks with Cuben fiber.

17. My Life Outdoors
The Hiker’s Choice Awards at MLO were a huge hit (I want to thank my legions of fans for stepping aside and giving somebody else a chance in the contest. But really: 2 votes was taking it a bit too far.)

18. Northern California Hiking Trails
John had a great naked-hiking story awhile back. Yes, I’m going to make you go look for it.

19. Out There With Tom
These reports from a former editor at the Great Falls Tribune are always engaging: especially the fact that they happen all year, snowfall or no snowfall.

20. Gear Talk with Jason Klass
Jason is the Sultan of Stoves, the Viceroy of Video. Can’t wait to hear how his Mount Whitney trip turned out.

21. Take a Long Hike
Ray reports on a few thru-hikers who finished the Appalachian Trail this season. One guy lost over 40 pounds (I’m surprised he didn’t simply vanish into thin air).

22. Trail Cooking
Sarah’s always got a lot cooking besides her world-class freezerbag recipes (including, well, one in the oven as they say).

23. Daily Hiker
Branden keeps the hot hiking news flowing, but he’s also got a huge following over on Facebook.

24. Nature for Kids
Nature for Kids proves you cannot go wrong posting adorable pictures of your children.

25. Hiking With Impunity
Mike’s point: hike smart and you’ll avoid punishment on the trail. Using the term “impunity” sorta implies punishment is a deserved outcome of hiking (think “Wall Street bankers who ruined the economy with impunity”) but it’s just a few steps from the old adage that if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.