Hiking is a terrific outdoor activity that’s good for the body and mind, and there’s no experience necessary. If you can walk, you can hike! Hiking is like taking a long walk outdoors, in the wilderness or countryside.
Typically, hiking follows a marked, unpaved trail and can range from easy to difficult. The start of a trail, called a trailhead, is usually well marked and will indicate how long it takes an average person to complete the route.
Hiking Solo or with Others
Sometimes it’s nice to have solitude and enjoy a nature hike on your own, but it’s safer and more fun to hike with a buddy or group. Hiking is an activity that’s easy and accessible for everyone because there’s not a lot of equipment, training, or necessary cost.
It’s also great exercise and is popular all around the world. No matter where you live, you’ll find lots of hiking enthusiasts. If you’re new to your community, joining a hiking club or group is a great way to meet new people and embark on new hiking adventures.
The Benefits of Hiking with Others
Hiking has excellent health benefits. Regular physical activity increases muscle strength, improves respiration and heart action, releases endorphins, builds stamina, and reduces stress.
Hiking with a group has many benefits too. There’s safety in numbers, so if you get lost or hurt, there’s someone to help you. You can share experiences with other hikers, learn more about the area, get hiking and equipment tips, or be warned of any hazards or points of interest to watch out for.
On a longer hike, hiking companions can help each other stay motivated and challenge each other to take on more ambitious hikes as they gain experience. Best of all, hiking in a group means making new friendships, having fun together, and sharing the load, whether it be equipment, food, supplies, transportation, or costs.
Where to Find Other Hikers and Hiking Groups
There are many ways to connect with hiking clubs or groups. One of the best ways to find like-minded folks is on meetup.com. It’s free to join, and there are members worldwide.
You can search for groups and events in your area or any place you might be traveling to. You can even start your own group and grow a community of people who share your interest in hiking or other outdoor adventures.
Another excellent place to find hiking groups is on Facebook. You can search for local groups or join wider groups to learn about hiking in other parts of the world. There’s also a built-in safety factor in that you can message and friend people easily to find out more about them before embarking on a hike with them.
You can also reach out to your existing Facebook friends. You may uncover a friend’s passion for hiking that you didn’t even know about!
Most post-secondary schools, colleges, and universities have student clubs for a variety of interests. If you’re a student, check with your student association to find out what hiking clubs may exist. Community clubs and recreation centers like the Lions or YMCA may also have informal groups for various interests.
While hiking doesn’t require a lot of gear, you will need some basics like a great-fitting, durable pair of hiking boots. Many outdoor outfitters have organized hiking groups as well, so ask about them when you visit the store to buy equipment.
Where to Find the Best Hiking Gear
Search the internet for outdoor outfitters in your area. Visit their websites to find one near you, and check out their inventory and prices. Along with the well-known stores, there may be some excellent small business outfitters that can give you more personal attention and advice. Shop around for deals and if you can wait until the end of a season, you can often find discounted rates on particular hiking items related to that season. This way you will be all geared up for next year.
Planning a Great Hike
The internet is also a great place to search for trail information. Federal and state parks and recreation areas offer many hiking opportunities and can provide trail maps, locations, conditions, open and closing times, and any other rules or restrictions in place. Most cities also have trail systems through green spaces that can feel as outdoorsy as any wilderness trail.
When planning a hike, always be prepared for the weather, as it can change quickly. Dress in layers and have some rainproof clothing and a hat with you. Don’t forget to bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray if needed. Carry an appropriate pack weight for your size and strength and noisemakers if you are venturing into wildlife areas. Above all else, stay safe and enjoy your next hiking adventure!