Looking for a weekend activity? 5 reasons you should be hiking

Here’s one thing we can be thankful for in Hawaii: You’re never too far from a beach.

Here’s another: You’re never too far from a great hike, either.

hikingOn every island, there are miles and miles of maintained hiking trails. Many start right in our neighborhoods, or just a few minutes from Downtown Honolulu. And there are hiking trails for all skill levels.

Na Ala Hele, the state’s Trail and Access program, provides lots of information on maintained hikes, including trail lengths, what you can expect, directions, and links to other useful websites.

Na Ala Hele has said hiking is growing in popularity among both residents and visitors. And that’s a good thing.

But program staff remind all hikers to take precautions before they start out.

It’s always a good idea to hike with a partner, let others know how long you’ll be hiking, wear proper clothing and bring lots of water. You should also always check the weather conditions before you head out the door, and know your physical limitations.

So why do we count hiking as one of our favorite activities?

Here are five reasons:

Hiking1. Get in touch with nature. In our daily lives, slogging through traffic, working in an office, sitting in front of the TV at night, it’s easy to forget about the wonder of nature’s beauty. Going on a hike helps you engage your senses, and reconnect with the natural world. Once you see it up close, you’ll realize how important it is that we save it for future generations.

2. Get a great workout. Hiking burns upwards of 370 calories an hour, depending on your weight and the skill level of the trail. But it’s not only a great cardio workout. It also builds strength, and improves balance.

3. Bring the whole family. There are hiking trails for all skill levels in the islands. If you’re bringing children along, be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks. And don’t over-do it. The hike will always be there for another day.

4. Feel that stress melt away. When you’re hiking, you’re not thinking about all the things you have to do, all the work you have sitting on your desk, all the deadlines you’ve got looming. It’s you and the trail, one foot in front of the other. All exercise is good for tackling stress, but we think hiking is particularly potent.

5. Take in some great views. Hiking isn’t about the destination, obviously. You don’t set off on a trail just to get to the end. But when you do get there – to that stunning lookout or that majestic waterfall, you do feel pretty darn good about yourself. Mission accomplished.

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