Go ahead and take a hike. Really, you have no excuses not to because Nov. 17 is National Take a Hike Day. Think of it as time alone to relax, time with the family to get closer to Mother Nature, or exercise that will burn off your favorite holiday cookies from grandma.
Whether solo or with a group of friends, one of the best places to take a hike – even if you have never hiked before – is in your state’s local or national parks. There are 27 states that have a national park that you can explore and there are 412 national parks across the country. Imagine walking any of the 3,000 square miles in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park or the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans the southern Appalachians along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
There are also states that have a trails that connect and wind throughout the state. In New York, for example, The Appalachian Trail, spans 14 states, and is 3,200 miles, actually traveling from Crown Point, New York to Sakakawea, North Dakota. In New York, you can hike the 19-mile Catskill Scenic Trail and stop at the beautiful Kaaterskill Falls.
Hiking through the Grand Canyon? Not exactly recommended as the National Park Service states that over 250 people are rescued from the canyon each year. It is not recommended that you do not hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially during the hot months of May to September. There are day hikes available on paved trails on the South and the North Rims and there are guided hiking trips available as well. The views are absolutely extraordinary.
Also in Wyoming is Jackson Hole, which was named as one of the top places to hike in North America by U.S. World & News Report. There are a variety of experiences here for hikers of all levels including the Rock Springs Loop that descends about 1,000 vertical feet into a mountain meadow abundant in wildflowers. It’s approximately 4 miles long and is considered a very strenuous trek. If you’re looking for a shorter, less strenuous hike that ends with a spectacular view of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole, try hiking along Rendezvous Mountain ridgeline at 10,450 feet.
Of course, if you’re looking for a bucket list hike, the Pacific Crest Trail is a dream for many hikers. It’s 2650 miles long and it has an absolutely beautiful view of the Pacific mountain ranges. It’s not a simple day trip, but if you decide to make the hike you’ll see the Mojave Desert and end up in British Columbia’s E.C. Manning Provincial Park.
If after one hike you’re already hooked, then consider joining a hiking club. The American Hiking Society keeps a list of clubs and activities you can participate in. They also have volunteer trail vacations where you can hike and help to take care of the trails on public lands at the same time.