Beginner’s Guide to… Hiking. Oh, the places you’ll go.

Despite the nearly constant rain of the Pacific Northwest, a hike is almost always a good idea. There are so many trees out there, ones that are beautifully green and ones whose leaves are changing colors as we speak. There are mountains and snow and waterfalls ready to inspire us to take care of the world we live in. The wild deer and the unique birds await for us to embark on our adventuring and admiration for their home.

While getting started with hiking can be intimidating, getting out there and experiencing nature for yourself is doable and can provide benefits to your mental and physical health.

According to the American Hiking Association, hiking can help prevent or lessen the effects of conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, anxiety, and arthritis. The Outdoor Recreation Network has also found links to improved physical health through “green exercise” such as walking or cycling. There is also growing evidence for improvement in mental health to help combat depression and anxiety.

Where can we experience these health benefits? In the PNW, the world is your playground. With resources like the Washington Trails Association website, you can easily pick your next hike. It hosts information about an extensive variety of Washington trails, taking into account their length, elevation changes, and overall ratings to help identify which trail might best associate with the level of hiking you are comfortable with.

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