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It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.

Cheryl Strayed

There’s a lot that could be said about Take a Hike Day, but it seems that this excerpt from Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail says it all just perfectly.

History of Take A Hike Day

Take a Hike Day was established by the American Hiking Society with the hope of encouraging individuals, groups of families and friends to get out into the wild and really get a taste of what it means to be away from it all again. Hiking is something that consistently helps to rebuild the human connection with nature, and also aids in maintaining healthy hearts and bodies as well.

Hiking should not be an affair that a person rushes through. However, it should also not be a journey that a person goes through idly with very little sense of purpose. Instead, a person should listen to their heart and body: when restlessness strikes head out for the distant hills, and when weariness sets inlet the body rest and take in the environment.

Take A Hike Day was created to remind everyone that humans are creatures of the wild as well as creatures of civilization, and sometimes it does that wild heart good to be taken home again and get out into the depths of nature.

National Take a Hike Day Timeline


Lewis and Clark start on their famous expedition

Setting out from St. Louis, Lewis and Clark with a team of 40 make their way toward the Pacific Ocean in 18 months.[1]


Vice President Teddy Roosevelt hikes Mount Marcy

While there was no actual trail, the VP of the US takes a famous hike and by the time he gets down the mountain, he discovers that President William McKinley has died from a gunshot wound.[2]


National Parks are established in the US

Initiated by US President Woodrow Wilson, the US National Parks Service is created to protect natural places where people often hike. [3]


Appalachian Trail is proposed

This trail is imagined from Georgia to Maine, passing through 14 different US states. It will take 16 years to complete the trail.[4]


REI is started in Seattle

This famous company that supplies hiking gear is organized as a consumer cooperative so people can become members and share.[5]

How to Celebrate Take A Hike Day

The great thing is that the best suggestion for celebrating this day is contained right there in the name! Buzz off, get out, go away, take a hike! But that’s not all, other ideas for honoring and observing this day can be conjured up as well:

Take a Hike to a New Place

There are a million places to go on a hike, from your own backyard to the highest peaks in far-flung and exotic locations. When you hike, be sure to take note of the beautiful and magnificent surroundings, from the towering trees overhead to the secret and elusive critters that live in mountain streams and in distant glades. Hikes were made to commune with nature, and noticing it is the first step. Don’t be in a hurry!

Most people would be surprised at just what can be found by looking under the canopy of a tree, or with a quick glance under a bush. Take A Hike Day is the ideal opportunity to reconnect with the fundamentally important things in life: the fresh air, blue sky, and deep rich earth underfoot.

Learn Safety Tips for Hiking

While Take a Hike Day can certainly be loads of fun, it’s also important to use the brain and follow certain safety guidelines so that the hike ends in delight rather than a visit to the emergency room. This is especially important because getting away from it all also means getting away from easy access to medical care!

In addition to having the proper gear, such as boots and socks, consider these important tips for staying safe and comfortable during a hike:

  • Stay Hydrated

    Bring a filled water bottle and sip on it throughout the hike. This is especially important on warmer days when dehydration is more likely.

  • Hike with a Friend

    Having a hiking buddy is ideal to be sure everything is okay. For a solo hike, make sure someone knows exactly where you’re headed and check in with them upon arrival.

  • Create an Itinerary

    Knowing where you are going is vital when hiking–and be sure to share it with someone outside the group, such as with the park ranger’s office. This helps in case someone gets lost or injured and a search party needs to be sent out.

  • Prepare for weather

    Watch the weather forecast and take into consideration factors such as altitude, lightning, or rain. The heat of the sun is another important weather factor to be prepared for. Pack sun protection, rain gear, emergency shelter and a first aid kit.

Grab Some Friends for a Hike

Going on a short hike alone can be therapeutic and soothing. But when it comes to serious hiking, it’s best to have at least one buddy to journey with. Plus, the more the merrier! Choose a hiking buddy who moves at a similar pace, who appreciates nature in the same way, and who is able to either talk or be quiet as needed.

Don’t have a friend who likes to hike? Get connected with safe hiking groups by contacting the local park ranger for more information.

Join the American Hiking Society

Want to stay connected and keep apprised of the most important information regarding hiking? The American Hiking Society (AHS) might just be the place to go. Register on their website, join in with an affordable monthly membership, become a NextGen trail leader, participate as an ambassador, or get involved with a Volunteer Vacation. AHS offers plenty of opportunities to get hiking, as well as working to protect trails and advocate for hiking access.

National Take a Hike Day FAQs

What are “switchbacks” in hiking?

A switchback is a path that takes twists and turns over a mountain or a hill.[1]

What to wear for hiking?

The most important piece of hiking gear to have are the right shoes, which can be hiking sandals, sneakers, or special hiking boots.[2]

Can hiking build muscle?

Yes! Hiking is a cardiovascular activity that also works muscles like the glutes, abs, hamstrings, quads, calves and hips.[3]

Where did hiking originate?

Hiking has been around since ancient times and started simply out of the need people had to travel, so they went on foot.

Do hiking poles help?

Trekking poles take the stress off of the joints, help maintain balance and pace, and even help keep wild animals at bay.[4]

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