Hiking is a great way to add some adventure to your trips and explore nature in the most primitive way. Wandering off into the woods or on a nature path is popular for various reasons which I’ll discuss in the following article. It’s always been one of my favorite pastimes and is something that I have used to recharge my battery regularly. One of the reasons that I like to travel in my camper van is that it can take me to places where I can hike and participate in other outdoor adventures.
While hiking may be less of an adventure than mountain biking, rock climbing, or paragliding, it’s one that has a different purpose, at least for me. When I go hiking, I become part of nature and I see it as a way of meditating and taking a break from ordinary life. I slow down, take notice, and admire what the natural world has given us. I’m not one who is impressed by tall buildings or city streets. Instead, I like to see a natural environment and watch in awe as the sun rises or sets from a lookout that may be hard to get to…unless you hike to it.
One of my goals is to hike in as many locations as possible through the United States. In particular, I am aiming at hiking all of the National Parks and anywhere else in between. I still have a long way to go but the journey is part of the fun. Whether you have a camper van or another type of RV or no RV at all, traveling to places where you can hike is a nice break from the ordinary.
Here are 15 reasons that I love to go hiking and hopefully it will inspire you to do the same.
1) Get Back To Your Roots
Walking; it’s what humans were designed to do! Rather than spend all day in an office chair, humans of the past spent their days trekking through the woods and over difficult terrain in search of food, water, and shelter. When we go out hiking, we get back to our roots and it’s just a natural feeling to be walking on a hiking trail. Although the hiking trails of today are generally clear and well-trodden, hiking through the woods can still be reminiscent of the olden days.
I often think about the pioneers that made their ways through the area I’m hiking long before modern-day conveniences. It makes me feel like a real pioneer myself and allows me to escape the real world for just a little while.
2) It’s Great Exercise
Hiking can be a great exercise depending on the trail you are on. Some trails can be quite treacherous and difficult to maneuverer. Whether it’s uphills, downhills, rocks, and logs to climb over, or creeks to cross, all of these obstacles allow for a great way to get some great exercise. I like it because it gets me away from the boring gym and offers a nice change of scenery.
I love to workout and often do standard gym exercises but that gets very boring to me. It’s a nice changeup to get outdoors and hit the trail. Going on a 10-mile day hike is no easy task and by the time you are done, you are likely spent more than you would be on any workout you would do in a gym. Of course, it’s a different type of exercise but it’s great to change up your activities occasionally. Hiking is a great alternative to add to your list of ways to stay in shape.
3) Allows You To Slow Down
Hiking isn’t always about the exercise. It’s also a nice way to slow down a bit. We live in a fast-paced world and everyone expects everything to happen in an instant. With our modern-day devices doing nearly anything we want in a split second, we have become a world of impatience and we fail to appreciate the simple things in life. Hiking is a great opportunity to put your phone away and slow down a bit. It’s a time to just take it all in and enjoy the simplicity of nature.
Even difficult hikes can be relaxing and you can take your time as you go. It feels great to slow down a bit after a hectic week and wander along a nice peaceful hiking trail. As mentioned before, it’s one of my favorite ways to unwind and recharge.
4) Meet New People
I don’t remember many times when I have gone hiking without meeting some friendly people. It’s common to see other people on the trail unless you are in a truly obscure place. There have been many times that I have come across some folks and have struck up great conversations.
You’ll probably have a lot in common with others out on the trail since you are both finding an interest in hiking, to begin with.
5) It’s Cheap Adventure
Hiking is one of the cheapest activities you can take part in. It requires walking and you can decide how far you want to take it with hiking clothes, shoes, and other items that you may deem necessary or not. Some people go all out but there is no need to unless you plan on hiking long distances into the backcountry.
A pair of comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes along with a water bottle, and maybe a small backpack with some snacks will get the job done. These items are not expensive and you probably already have them anyway.
6) Helps You Appreciate Nature
Nature is pretty amazing but we often go about our lives without even thinking about it. When you go hiking it’s easy to see it up close and personal. Whether you are hiking in the desert, mountains, or a wooded area, there is always something amazing to see. My favorite hikes are those that take me along the ocean, cascading streams, or have amazing mountain views. However, even the more “uninteresting” areas will have a lot to offer if you take notice.
7) It’s a Great Way to Explore An Area
Before it was a modern-day concrete heaven, every place throughout the world was just a wild, untamed paradise. Nature was front and center and there were no high rise buildings or crowded city streets to navigate. If you want to explore how an area used to be, you will have to get off the beaten path and head for the backcountry. State parks or National Parks are usually a great way to explore the way an area was before the modernization of it.
I enjoy going to an area and finding the most remote hiking areas to explore. As someone who has an interest in history, I find it fascinating to see the wild, uncivilized areas of a locale.
8) It’s Fun!
If nothing else, hiking is fun! It’s especially fun when you get together with others to complete a hike. Your hike will seem like it wasn’t long enough as you hike along with friends, chatting, and laughing.
Of course, hiking being fun is relative and will differ from one person to another. I’m sure there are plenty of people who hate to hike but there are many others on the opposite side of that spectrum who absolutely love it! I happen to be one of them.
9) It’s Rewarding
Some hikes are more rewarding than others but in general, hiking trails lead to something worth seeing. This isn’t always the case but is often a benefit of hiking a long trail. The reward is at the end when you summit the mountain or when you finally see a waterfall or other natural feature that you are hiking to.
It’s rewarding to head out on a long trail and finally end up where you set out to go. I often hike with my photography gear and when I reach my destination, I’m rewarded with the sights and sounds I came for. It puts a smile on my face and leaves me with a memory that I’ll carry for the rest of my life. Not only will the reward live on in the pictures I come away with but also in my mind.
10) Gives You Time In Solitude
Unless you are on a crowded trail somewhere, solitude is what you’ll often find. It’s important to be in solitude on occasion and the more you see the value of it, the more you will want it. Being alone gives you time to reflect and consider the things that are important to you in life. It’s a great time to take deep breathes and exhale all of your troubles. Solitude is for those who want to recharge and we all need to do that regularly if we expect to live effective lives.
Being in solitude, just you and nature, can be very therapeutic and help you overcome mental challenges you may be struggling with. Personally, I seek solitude regularly so that I can recharge and re-adjust my goals, set new goals, and reflect on what is important to me.
11) Gives You A Sense of Accomplishment
Hiking long distances can give you a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially true on long hikes like the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail to name a few. These difficult hikes are not for the faint of heart and are huge accomplishments for those who complete the challenges.
However, it need not be a thousand-mile (or more) hike to give you a sense of accomplishment. No matter the trail, it’s an accomplishment when you make it to your destination and back.
Of course, the more difficult the trail, the more accomplishment you will feel. Whether you are hiking Cathedral Rock in Arizona or the Multnomah Falls trail in Oregon, you will get a sense of accomplishment when you make it to the pinnacle of these trails.
12) Gets You To The Best Views & Locations
Sometimes the most picturesque places are only available via hiking trails. If you want to experience the best views or the most iconic sights, you might have to hike to get there. Only those who work for it will get to see the view from the pinnacle of the mountain or be able to walk underneath the waterfall.
If your goal is to see some sites that are on that standard tourist ticket, you will have to do some work to make it happen.
13) Allows You To Get Close To Wildlife
Chances are, you’ll see unique wildlife out on a hiking trail. I’ve seen animals that I probably wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been hiking such as bears, eagles, wild turkeys, and others. However, you will want to be careful if you are in an area where dangerous animals could be.
I have hiked quite a bit in the Smoky Mountains National Park and there are bears that you will encounter depending on the time of year and your luck. Although they are generally elusive and when they are seen, they mind their own business, it’s still good to be careful when you are hiking and know the type of wildlife that you may encounter. Be prepared just in case you come face to face with something you didn’t expect. It’s not likely to happen but there is always that small chance.
14) It Can Be a Humbling Experience
Since we are so used to driving everywhere and having things done for us, hiking puts you in a place where you have to do the hard work yourself to get the reward. Even for those who are in great shape, it can be a humbling experience out on the trail. Go on a long, difficult hike and you’ll be sweaty, thirsty, hungry and you may have cramps all over your body.
I’ve hiked without enough water and suffered from cramps and other pains along the way. It’s a humbling experience and proves how fragile our bodies are and teaches us a little more appreciation for the conveniences we have in life.
15) It’s Healthy
Besides being good exercise, hiking gets you outdoors, and outdoors means being in the sun. For people who stay inside at a job a lot, being out in the sun is much needed in order to boost your levels of vitamin D. Besides that, the sun and fresh air feels great and can be refreshing after a difficult week on the job. There are many other benefits associated with being in the sun.
Whether you sit at a desk or work on an assembly line, getting outdoors and into the sun is a healthy experience that will leave you feeling better.
No matter what the reason, hiking is something that nearly anyone can do. There are hiking trails of all different levels of difficulty and you can always find one to suit your needs. It’s an easy, outdoor activity that involves a little bit of adventure. As an avid hiker myself, being out on the trail is an activity that I look forward to. When I haven’t been hiking in a while, I get a little grumpy and know that I need to get moving.
It doesn’t matter where you live or where you travel to, you can always find somewhere to get off the beaten path and experience the location you are in. I feel like everyone should make hiking a part of their lives and enjoy nature a little bit more.
If you are not a hiker but want to be, it doesn’t take anything special. Just find a location, put on some comfortable clothes and shoes, and get moving. If you are new to it, be sure and stay on marked trails and take plenty of water anytime you head out. Be in the moment as you hike and enjoy all of the magical nature around you rather than just trying to get through the hike. It’s a rewarding experience that will hopefully become a regular activity for you.