We have seen that a significantly large number of users have taken advantage of the California State Parks guides as well as other guides that are available for free, and we wanted to make guides available to more users without any barriers because they are very useful resources.
You can continue to list guides for purchase, as we know that a lot of hard work goes into each guide. Another reason for the free guides is that it allows more members to write "basic" guides, which consist of a track, stats, and a solid overview of the trail (basically, POIs are optional). There are so many great trips uploaded to EveryTrail but they are hard to find in searches because not everyone rates the trips, and it is difficult to pull out the good ones. With basic guides, all have gone through an approval process and meet the minimum requirements to be a useful resource for others, so we know that they are good hikes.