When many people think of hiking,they conjure up ideas of heavily backpacked men and women with a walking stick in one hand and Sherpas by their side. They see hikers as these supernatural athletes who can (and do) walk for days while barely breaking a sweat.
But that is far from the truth. Hiking today is as simple as finding an "off road" trail and strolling down it with a good friend. It's good for weight loss and cardiovascular health, and has great mental health benefits too.
Across America there are hundreds of opportunities for people of all shapes, sizes, and athletic abilities to get out in the fresh air and enjoy a good hike. They don't need to go far or even work up a good sweat to get a good workout and enjoy the beauty of this great country.
The joy of hiking after all is to be able to spend time in the great outdoors, soak up some sun, and experience the wonders of nature.
In Georgia, hikers of all levels flock to Stone Mountain Park. Originally built as a monument to the Confederacy, this mountain-high, solid block of granite has proved to be a beautiful place to appreciate Georgia's mild seasons.
On the flat face of the mountain there is a carving of three infamous Confederate soldiers larger than the Mount Rushmore carving. Though the park still carries some original vestiges left over from when it was a pillar of Confederate history, today the park's visitors and workers are extremely diverse and everyone is welcome to experience the beauty of the park, hiking trails, and lakes on the property.
In addition to hiking the fantastic 1.3 mile climb up the side of the mountain, they also feature 15 miles of hiking trails throughout the 3,200 acre property. And if traditional hiking gets a bit boring, visitors can take a break at the seasonal festivals, a ropes adventure course, full-size train ride, and a quaint village full of shops and restaurants.
In Arizona, a place known for spectacular nature views, it is no wonder there are a plethora of hiking options. One of the most popular, and strenuous, hikes is to the top of Camelback Mountain.
Unlike Stone Mountain,there are no snack stands at the top of this climb nor is there a "sky ride" lift for those who don't want to walk. Camelback Mountain is a strenuous test for anyone who wants to push themselves and really see what they can do.
While many of the 300,000 people who hike the mountain don't make it to the top of this 1.2 mile hike, for those who do the view is spectacular. There are several trails around the base of the mountain to get a closer view of the native flora and wildlife.
There are trails everywhere, and not just close to mountains or national parks. Googling hiking in any local community will most likely garner dozens of results. Americans need to just seek out trails and know that there is no need for fancy equipment or expensive clothing. Just grab a friend and a (reusable) bottle of water and get started.
StoneMountainPark.com; Web; 13 November 2011; "Outdoors Recreation"; http://www.stonemountainpark.com/outdoors-recreation/outdoor-detail.aspx?AttractionID=805
PhoenixASAP.com; Web; 13 November 20111; "Camelback Mountain"; http://www.phoenixasap.com/camelback-mountain.html
Edited by Jody Smith