Hiking Enriches Family Vacations
It used to be that the only families planning to hike on vacation were those who slept in tents, but with changing vacation habits and the success of events like National Trails Day?which promotes the healthy-lifestyle benefits of hiking and nature?hiking is now something families are including to enrich their vacations. Travelers seek diverse experiences, even when vacationing in familiar destinations.
To illustrate, Gregory Miller, president of American Hiking Society, points to the changes in a typical beach vacation. "A trip to the beach was once defined by a day of sand and surf followed by pizza and a funny t-shirt," said Miller. "Now, a week at the beach might include taking a hike, renting kayaks or bicycles for a day, or going on a guided nature walk with a park naturalist."
Miller says National Trails Day, June's annual nationwide celebration of the outdoors, sponsored by American Hiking Society, shows how popular trails have become. This year's 1,130 registered events, held June 4, attracted nearly 122,000 participants. They hiked and rode more than 4,500 miles of trail and also contributed an estimated 168,000 combined volunteer hours to maintain or construct 1,870 trail miles.
"The diversity of the events, from urban parks to wilderness areas, illustrates the diversity of interest in the outdoors. Clearly, people want that connection with nature, and they want to make it a part of their everyday lives and their travel experiences," said Miller.
To find nature trails and short hikes near your vacation spot, Miller recommends a visit to the local visitor information booth. Many have brochures and maps for local parks. Travel and hiking guidebooks are another source. Once at your destination, local bookstores often sell books by local authors who know the region well. Outdoor stores and bike or canoe rental shops are another good source of information.
Miller even suggests people make hiking part of getting to the vacation destination, especially on those long days of driving that otherwise consist of nothing but highway. "What better way to break up the drive than by having a planned outdoor interlude along the way?a walk to a waterfall, perhaps, or a stroll to a scenic overlook not far from the road you're traveling?"
"A glance at a decent road map will highlight the parks and special features, such as scenic overlooks," said Miller. "Follow that with a quick internet search on those features and you probably have the information for a rest-stop that could be as memorable as your destination."
Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national conservation-based recreation organization dedicated to establishing, protecting and maintaining the nation's footpaths and promoting the hiking experience. With a strong membership base of individual hikers and hiking clubs, American Hiking represents more than half a million outdoors people and serves as the national voice of the American hiker. To learn more about hiking, the Society and its programs including National Trails Day?, please visit htpp://www.AmericanHiking.org or call 301-565-6704.