Hiking Trails in America

Pathways to Health

Call it walking. Call it hiking. Seldom has something so much fun also turned out to be so good for us!

by American Hiking Society

When it comes to health and fitness, most of us know we can and should do better. We always say that health is more important than money, yet our actions all too often fail to reflect that. We even sometimes set ourselves up with lofty health and fitness goals in the new year and then feel let down when real life keeps us from going to the gym or joining friends for a run.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Walking is the key to numerous health benefits that are life-changing. Benefits such as a healthy body weight, lower blood pressure, and even an improved mental outlook.

But walking sounds so… pedestrian.

So American Hiking Society encourages walkers and would-be walkers to mix it up a little and go for a hike—even an urban hike!

With numerous trails in and near urban and suburban centers, getting out on the trail has never been easier. Whether the trail is a converted railway line, a dirt path in the park, or a marked route among buildings and other community features, hiking close to home is an easy way to “up” the fun level of getting and staying fit.

While we don’t want to get hung up on terminology, sometimes people wonder: just what is the difference between hiking and walking anyway? American Hiking Society notes that characteristics of hiking include walking recreationally and walking in a natural environment (trees and plants in the city count!). While many trails are dirt, many Americans also hike on paved trails. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, if you’re walking for fun or fitness, watching the leaves change on the trees, maybe noticing the birds among the plants, you’re hiking—no matter where that hike is taking place. Miller continues, “Just get up and walk. Find a nearby trail and take a hike, experience the natural wonders of a city park or backcountry wilderness.”


Attached document published May 2016

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Adaptive Trail Mobility Equipment and Programming 101

Apr 11, 2024

This webinar will discuss adaptive recreation equipment and programming, as well as funding resources that can help facilitate equipment purchases and programming.

The Path to Mental Health

Jan 25, 2024

This webinar will demonstrate ecotherapy ideas for attendees to implement in their own communities, on their own trails, and at different scales, and also show the importance of collaboration for community health.

More resources in this category

Why Trails Matter: Trails and Greenways Promote Health

posted Feb 1, 2024

Trails and greenways create healthy recreation and transportation opportunities by providing people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and low- or no-cost places to cycle, walk, hike, jog or skate.

STEP IT UP! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

posted Jan 22, 2024

The Call to Action provides strategies that communities can use to support walking, which we hope will result in long-lasting changes to improve the health and health care of Americans today and of the generations that follow.

Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook

posted Dec 29, 2023

Consider this workbook as a starting point. Every project is different. This workbook is intended as a guide to be adapted for specific situations.

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is Making a Difference Across America

posted May 10, 2022

Use this interactive map to find where, when, and how these funds are being used.


603 views • posted 12/29/2023