What is National Hiking Day?
Also known as “Take A Hike Day,” National Hiking Day on November 17 may be one of the most important holidays out there. Why? For starters, there’s more than 60,000 miles of trails across the nation. Not to mention, hiking is great exercise allowing you to burn over 550 calories per hour. Plus, being in the outdoors allows you to get away from your phone and appreciate nature’s beauty and wonder.
History of National Hiking Day
Hiking wasn’t always the fashionable pastime it is today. Before the Subarus and the Jeeps and the Patagonias built an industry around the activity, walking – of any kind – was considered an activity for the impoverished or the vagrant. Until the Romantic era of the Victorian years inspired the likes of Walden and Thoreau to reconnect with nature and that, in turn, inspired the landscape architects to design parks with excellent walking trails (looking at you Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame). Walking then became something of the educated, the unhurried, the luxurious.
Until John Muir came along and walked his way through the Sierra Nevadas in California and demanded that not only hiking, walking, meandering, sojourning, whatever you want to call it be accessible to every American citizen, but that the country should actively preserve natural areas of pristine ecology and beauty. So in 1890 he petitioned for the creation of the National Park System and we were endowed with “America’s best idea” – Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.
But even before Muir, on the east coast a small group of people had banded together in 1876 to form the Appalachian Mountain Club, which had a goal to protect and preserve all hiking trails along the historic mountain range, as well as develop new ones.
So whether you prefer to hit the jogging trails in Central Park or are prepping to backpack the entire Pacific Crest Trail, every step on a trail is with a long line of explorers, trailblazers, and activists from before.