As with any recreational activity, people go hiking for a few basic reasons. It’s important to remember that these activities are engaged in by choice in most cases. So the reasons for doing them are much more “solid” than the reasons for doing something we have to do.
Many people say they go hiking because they love to walk in the outdoors, without necessarily having a destination ahead of them. This makes hiking much different than walking down the street to the store or to some other place that we need to go. The old saying is that life is a journey, not a destination. This could well be applied to the act of hiking. We enjoy ourselves along the way whether we arrive somewhere important or not.
Some people add another reason for hiking to the basic one of loving to be outdoors. These folks see hiking as not only mentally healthy for clearing the mind but also physically healthy – as great exercise for the body. Unlike some other more aggressive or intense exercise programs, hiking can be an activity for almost anyone in reasonably good health. Hiking on a smooth, level path is even good exercise. Trudging over rougher terrain can be a workout and a time of enjoyment at the same time.
Some people who hike on a regular basis give little thought to the exercise part of the activity. These people are more likely to go hiking because they are exploring the great outdoors. They may be interested in the trees or the rocks. Perhaps they are interested in looking at the birds or the various mammals that occupy the forest or the park.
Hiking is an activity that can be enjoyed in almost any setting, even in some of the larger municipal parks. Certainly state and federal park land is ideal for hiking. Many of these sites have designated trails for hiking. This leads many to take part in hiking specifically for the exercise and enjoyment of being outdoors, when they may not do this otherwise.
Some people look at hiking as having two major benefits. When asked why they go hiking in their spare time many people will combine these reasons: it’s good to clear the mind and help me relax; it doesn’t take a great investment of money for equipment. For them, a good pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes can help them get away from work or other stressful situations that may arise in life. In many cases, these hikers can pursue their favorite pastime all year long. They may be able to take those outdoor walks in almost any weather.
Some people who dig a little deeper into their reasons might say they are getting back to nature in a very significant way. These folks may seek out the more rugged and isolated trails for hiking, digging deep into their animal selves to find something they feel is missing. It’s safe to say that hiking can heal and please the human being in many ways.