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Have you ever considered hiking as a way to build community?
Solo hiking is enjoyed by many. However, hiking can also be fun to do with a group. Whether it be family, friends, or a specific hiking group.
Hiking alone can sometimes be so much easier to do when we want to go on a spur-of-the-moment hike, or simply breathe in some fresh air in solitude. On the other hand, getting involved with group hiking can benefit you in so many ways.
Did you know that studies show that getting outdoors with a group on a regular basis has an impact on your blood pressure, mental health, and overall physical condition?
Consider some of the great benefits to group hiking:
Carpooling. When you're hiking with other people, carpooling is a great thing to do. It is more environmental and you can split the cost of gas. If you don't have a vehicle or don't like to drive, you are all set. Also, many hiking destinations don't have a ton of parking spaces as they fill up fast.
Conversations. The great thing about hiking is that you can engage in conversations while you're on the trails. Some of the best conversations I have had with others have been while we're walking. On the other hand, even if it is a conversation you're not thrilled about, at least you have beautiful scenery to enjoy.
First-hand knowledge. Most likely others in your group, especially the group leader, will be knowledgeable about the trail you are hiking, and the best gear that it requires. That peace of mind can be so comforting as it will prepare you for the best hiking experiences.
Safety. No matter how prepared or experienced you are, accidents can happen, whether it be a fall or altitude sickness. Hiking with others is always a safe option in the event of an emergency.
Accountability. Being a part of a group of passionate hikers is the perfect way to keep your love for hiking alive. There is something about being around like-minded people to keep your love of hiking going strong.
New friendships. Joining a hiking group is an amazing way to make new friends. You know you already have at least one thing in common: a love for the outdoors! And isn't it true that often times we remember the people we spend time with even more than the event or our surroundings. If you are looking to build new friendships, getting involved in a hiking group is sure to do the trick.
Less planning. Tired of going to the same trails over and over again, but not sure how to find new, awesome hiking destinations? You will not have to worry about planning your hikes, and still get to enjoy the benefit of awesome hikes organized by someone else.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can get plugged in with hiking groups in your community:
- Meet-ups. Meetup.com is a well-established website with over 11,000,000 members. It's a great (and free!) resource to use to find groups in your area that hike regularly, or you can start your own.
Hike It Baby. Hike It Baby is a wonderful organization dedicated to getting families together and spending time outdoors. Do you have little ones at home? Hike It Baby is designed for birth to school age kids. There are tons of branches all over the world. See if there is one in your city.
Local colleges and universities. Are you a college student, or do you live near one? Many schools often have hiking and outdoor clubs that could definitely be worth looking into.
52 Hike Challenge. Join tens of thousands in a challenge to hike once a week for 52 weeks. Once you sign up on the website, you will have access to other hikers who are doing the challenge in your community. Learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge, the founders, and how it all got started.
Outdoor gear retailers. Ask your local retailers if they have planned hiking trips. If you really want to branch out and go on an adventure, REI Adventures organizes some epic hiking trips all over the world.
If you are feeling really ambitious and are unable find any hiking groups in your area, be brave and start your own hiking club! You may also want to check out this series on how to start a hiking group.
Check out this inspirational story about building a community through group hiking, written by a woman who has had first-hand experience in creating her own hiking group. You can also find some tips she shares for organizing a group hike.
Hopefully, this has inspired you to start finding hiking groups in your community.
Are you already involved in a hiking group? Share your experience with us. It is bound to encourage others to join one, too! Happy hiking!