What Makes Hiking So Fun?

Feb 14th 2024

What Makes Hiking So Fun?

Whether solo or with a group, there are many reasons to enjoy hiking.

John Muir, a naturalist and conservationist credited with the creation of the National Park System, once said, “Between every two pines there is a doorway to a new world.” Heading into nature can definitely feel this way, especially when you’re new to hiking, and even still when you’re an experienced hiker exploring new trails. But what is exciting and fun for one person might be scary or too challenging for another. So you might wonder what makes hiking so fun if it can be so subjective? There are many reasons to hit the trails–here are a few of our favorites.

Hiking is versatile

We love hiking because it can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it. Only have time for a quick hike? Then pick a shorter route near home! Have more time for a longer adventure? Plan a road trip to an epic trek! Did you have a tough day and need to blow off some steam? Pick a gentle hike with some nice scenery that will help you relax. We love using apps like AllTrails to find hiking trails because it has filters for distance, difficulty level, scenery and more, plus plenty of reviews from other hikers to help determine if it’s a good trail to check out.

Hiking is good for your physical health

Regular physical activity is important for your overall health. The World Health Organization recommends that adults do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. But that doesn’t mean you have to do all your workouts in a gym! Hitting the trails is a great way to work your heart, lungs and muscles, and can help build stamina, strength, balance and agility. When you’re doing good things for your body, you feel good!

Hiking is good for your mental well-being

American naturalist John Burroughs (April 3, 1837 – March 29, 1921) once said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Stanford research found that walking in the natural world yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce risk of depression. The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” The act of observing nature and absorbing its calming atmosphere can lower blood pressure, heart rate and harmful hormones like cortisol which comes from stress.

It’s especially important for city dwellers to find green spaces to spend time in nature. Even a five- or ten-minute walk through a local park can help reduce stress and boost productivity.

Hiking offers nice views

Who doesn’t love a moment to take in a great view and maybe snap a couple photos? Whether it’s a quiet trail along a body of water, chasing waterfalls, climbing to the top of a peak for 360 degree views or trekking across a ridge line, there are so many amazing views to enjoy on a hike. TrailHeads is lucky to be headquartered in Kent, CT, right near plenty of incredible hikes with views (here are some of our favorites). But you can find great views hiking amongst desert rock formations, through vast grasslands and along coast routes, too.

Hiking can be social

Hiking is an awesome way to spend time with friends new and old. If you’re new to hiking or don’t have friends who enjoy it as much as you do, we recommend checking out Facebook or MeetUp for local hiking groups. Hiking with an established group often comes with the benefit of someone else planning the hiking trip. Be sure to ask questions about the length and difficulty of the hike so you can determine if that trail is a good one for you to check out.

Not everyone wants to hike with other people, and that’s a-okay. We love the introspection and peace of a solo hike. If you’re hiking alone, expect to do a little problem solving to pick your route in advance, pack the essentials (remember: your gear can make or break your hike) and don’t forget to share your plan with a friend or family member!

Check out our blog for more tips to help you take the trail less traveled.