Let’s Hike on National Trails Day®!

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On Saturday, June 1, 2024, the American Hiking Society invites everyone to join in on the fun and fitness of National Trails Day by planning some outside adventure. Founded in 1976, the organization and its mission of empowering everyone to enjoy, share and preserve the hiking experience have never wavered.

If you look up the word “hike,” its origin is a bit fuzzy, but all sources agree about the word’s meaning. To “hike” means to “walk vigorously;” some like to say “wander, saunter, meander or trek.” Of course, all of these forms of movement are in direct correlation to getting out into the great outdoors. Wilderness is increasingly rare in the world and pathless places of raw wilderness are getting harder to find. But going for a walk on a trail doesn’t mean walkers need to train like Bear Grylls or pack enough provisions to last a month. There are thousands of paths most traveled that give hikers of all ages, sizes and expertise levels a reason to for a stroll go with only a little prep and planning.

Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower the risk of heart disease while also working to improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Getting into the freshness and tranquility of nature also has mental health benefits. In a world that moves at a frenetic pace and is almost always noisy, the peace and calm of nature soothes even the most ragged nerves. Hiking trails can exist anywhere too. From the hard-packed desert earth to the lushness of woodland areas and parks, trail-walking doesn’t require a ton of fancy gear or a long commute. The main must-haves for a great way of trekking are a good pair of walking shoes, some water and treats, and the desire to discover new places.

Another health benefit to wandering the trails is that it can be a family affair and include people of any age or fitness level. To include all family members, arrange the walk or hike so that frequent stops are allowed for old and young, and make sure those stops include a place to snack, drink and play for ages in between.

Some would-be walkers need a little extra motivation to step away from their desk and putting down their devices to stroll the trails and appreciate nature. Luckily, every community, city or state has a plethora of beautiful places designed for those who wish to amble. Start by inquiring with the local park and recreation service about wildflower and wildlife identification walks and other informative hikes in the area. Check with your local historical society for tours and treks to explore historic places.

And don’t forget, 108 years ago, August 25, 1916, the National Parks were created to preserve the unique and wild areas of this vast and beautiful country. The options for places to hike within these treasures are endless.

Saturday, June 1, 2024, is the perfect time to kick-start a new outdoor habit! It’s an excellent excuse to lace up your hiking boots or trail runners and find new footpaths to explore. Whether you feel the urge to hike, saunter, meander or wander, the overarching focus is to get outside and walk the paths of the beautiful world we live in.

Sources: americanhiking.org, awesomejelly.com, goodreads.com and travelandleisure.com.


Resources and Apps
Terry Tempest Williams, author of The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, says, “Our public lands, whether a national park or monument, wildlife refuge, forest or prairie, make each one of us land-rich. It is our inheritance as citizens of a country called America.”

National Geographic’s website, nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks, has information and gorgeous photos of some of the more famous National Parks.

National Parks Conservation Association’s website, npca.org, shares all of the parks’ resources including natural, cultural and historical. The National Parks were created to conserve our wild spaces and NPCA makes sure this continues to happen.

Junior Ranger programs are detailed at nps.gov/kids/jrRangers.htm, where you can see all of the programs and download info and activity books.

The National Park Trust, parktrust.org, is an abundant resource featuring hiking games, other activities one can do in any of our national parks, activity booklets and much more. Kids to

Parks day is held on the third Saturday of May, so plan for an outing then.

For geocaching, Geosphere or Groundspeak, an iPhone and a sense of adventure will have your family locating caches in the parks.

For bird identification, Peterson Backyard Birds is a free app that quickly identifies birds with Roger Tory Peterson’s innovative identification system.

For flower identification, The Flower Checker app for iOS and Android uses real botanists to identify unknown plants, moss, fungus and even lichen, perhaps therefore making it the most accurate of the apps. •