I Love Hiking, and Here’s Why (7 Reasons)

Why do I love hiking?  Getting to see the world’s most beautiful places for cheap and spending quality time with the people I care about are my top two reasons.    

Kendall and I log hundreds of miles each year, and we’ve hiked all over the world.  Apart from the jaw-dropping sites and the cool people we’ve met, it’s been a great way to connect with each other, stay in shape, and push our limits. 

Not an avid hiker?  While hiking might not be for everyone, we sure think everyone should give it a shot.  If it’s your first time and you’re not sure where to start, no worries!  One of the great things about hiking is that it doesn’t require a ton of equipment or know-how in order to get started.  

So, let’s dive into five reasons I love hiking and some tips to help you overcome obstacles and get into the spirit! 

Reason #1 for Why I Love Hiking: REAL Quality Time With the People I Care About

But can’t you spend time with those people doing other things?  Things that don’t make you sweaty or covered in mosquito bites?  Yes, you sure can!  However, I love that hiking forces me (and the people I’m with) to be more present with each other.  

There’s no TV to plop down in front of.  We still have our cell phones (sometimes without cell reception), but it’s hard to get absorbed with the screen while walking. 

But don’t you get bored with each other?  That’s what someone asked me after I told them my family and I had just spent 11ish hours (and 22 miles) together hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim.  

We always download a long list of ‘conversation questions’ before heading out on the trail.  I love the lists from conversationstartersworld.  These lists have everything from weird ‘would you rather’ questions to thought-provoking questions about society.

I always learn something new about every single person I’m with, no matter how well I thought I knew them. 

four hikers descending a trail together
We love the chance that hiking gives us to make new friends and spend time with each other

Reason #2 I Love to Hike: See the World’s Most Beautiful Places for Cheap

Most of the hiking I’ve done is completely free or only requires a national park entrance fee.  

I spent my high school and university years hiking the trails in the Wasatch Range, some of the best day hikes in Utah, and didn’t pay a penny for most of them. 

Compared to guided tours, cruises, or adventure activities, hiking is a great way to see the world on a budget. You’ll often be able to step away from the crowds and have these beautiful places all to yourself. 

lake Blanche in Utah
Lake Blanche, one of the many gorgeous places that doesn’t cost a penny to visit

Also, compared to many other sports, hiking doesn’t require much specialized equipment.  

While I love my hiking gadgets, most of them really aren’t necessary, especially for easy trails. For a mild hike, all you really need is a decent pair of shoes, athletic pants, and a few basics in a backpack, and you’re ready to hit the trails in the fresh air. 

Hiking is also a great way to get to know your own hometown.  Heading out on the beautiful hikes near Spokane has helped me see this awesome city from a different angle. 

Reason #3: The Sense of Achievement

I like hard, steep trails.  There is something about reaching a peak or finishing a hard multi-day trek that just thrills me.

While I don’t do months-long challenges like the Pacific Crest Trail, I understand why other hikers do. There’s something invigorating about the challenge of a hard hiking trail. 

Also, I love knowing that I  just completed something that most people aren’t willing to do, like summiting Half Dome in Yosemite or trekking the Narrows in our dry suits in Zion National Park. 

The switchbacks of the South Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon.  Challenges like these are one of the reasons I love hiking
The switchbacks of the South Kaibab trail in the Grand Canyon. We love challenges like these

Reason #4: Incredible Health Benefits

Getting out and moving has so many health benefits, both physical and psychological.  

According to one study, walking, especially high-intensity walking, lowers blood pressure, especially for those already suffering from hypertension.  

The good thing about hiking vs walking burns more calories and builds muscle.  And, it’s much lower impact than other cardiovascular activities, like running. 

smartwatch display screen showing number of steps hiked
Hiking is a great workout. We love to track our mileage and steps with our smartwatches

Reason #5: Hiking is a Great Way to Get Outdoors in the Winter

Washington’s winters are cold, and although there are plenty of awesome indoor things to do in Spokane in the winter, I still really crave getting outside at least a few times a week.

Hiking is such a great way to do this, as it is cheaper (and closer) than, say, skiing (which I also love).

I love keeping my snowshoes, gaiters, and snow spikes in a tub in the back of my car so I’m right ready to head out after a powder snowstorm. 

winter hiking near spokane, our current hometown
Winter hiking near Spokane, our current hometown

Reason #6: Hiking is a Lifelong Sport 

One of my favorite things about being out on the trail is how many older people I see still at it.  On our recent 4-day trek to the Lost City in Colombia, I saw at least ten people in their 60s or 70s trekking along and loving it.  

I love investing my time and energy into something that I’ll be able to do well in the future. 

Reason #7: Unplug and Connect with Nature

In today’s world, it’s hard to disconnect. Hiking is a great opportunity to step away from it all—social media, the news, and work deadlines. Even if I’ve got cell reception on the trail, I’ll often put my phone on airplane mode just to disconnect and immerse myself in nature. 

an orange flower against a backdrop of mountains.
We love the chance to connect with nature and unplug from everything. We had zero cell reception on our Lost City trek in Colombia and loved it.

What to Wear Hiking

While you really don’t need any kind of specialized gear for easy hikes or if you are just starting out, for harder hikes I recommend wearing the following:

  • Hiking boots or trail runners
  • Moisture-wicking T-shirt or tank top OR
  • Lightweight, breathable long-sleeve shirt (I wear this even on hot days to protect my skin from the sun)
  • Quick-drying hiking shorts, convertible pants, or leggings.  
  • Hiking socks
a row of synthetic hiking shirts
synthetic hiking shirts are great for wicking moisture
a used pair of brown hiking boots
A good pair of hiking boots is a good investment; I found mine for $25 online

For cold weather:

  • Gloves or mittens 
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof hiking pants (I wear these on top of my leggings)
  • Snowshoes or snow spikes (for snowy/icy trails)
  • Gaiters to keep debris or snow out of your boots

Hiking Essentials: What to Pack

What to pack depends on a few things: How long is the hike?  Are you day-hiking or planning a multi-day trek?  For day hikes, I always have the following in my backpack: 

Essentials:

  • Downloaded map (I pay for the premium Alltrails app)
  • My wallet (if you need to pay for park entrance fees or gas)
  • Cell phone and extra charging brick (I love my Anker power bank)
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries

Food and Water:

  • Water (I bring two 1-liter bottles, even for short hikes)
  • High-energy snacks (nuts, energy bars, dried fruits)

Weather Protection:

  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent in a travel-sized spray bottle
  • Lightweight, packable rain jacket

Emergency Supplies:

  • Emergency blanket (these are cheap and very lightweight; always a good idea to have)
  • First-aid kit: My first-aid kit is fairly simple and usually just has moleskin, antibiotic ointment, and anti-inflammatory medication)
  • Whistle

Optional Extras:

  • Trekking poles: I recommend these for steep hikes or if you’ve got knee problems
  • Knee brace: Again, if you’ve got knee problems (I’ve got chronic patellar tendonitis), a good knee brace can be a lifesaver
overhead view of a pair of hiking poles
Trekking poles are great for steep trails
hiker wearing a purple wraparound knee brace
A good hiking knee brace can be a lifesaver for steep descents.

How to Get Into Hiking?  

The best way to get over your own fears of heading out on the trail is to start with easy, short trails and go on good-weather days. Our favorite resource for finding new trails is Alltrails.com. This fantastic website lets you search for hikes near you and filter by distance, elevation gain, and more. 

  1. Start slow: Start with easy trails near you.  This is a great way to get outside and explore your hometown!
  2. Go with friends: Take advantage of the best part of hitting the trails: doing it with others!  Grab your best friend, and find a trail that you’re both excited about!
  3. Bring your music: This is a great way to push through when I’m tired
  4. Opt for good weather: Especially when starting out, pick fair weather days.  You won’t need as much equipment, and you’re more likely to have a great experience.
  5. Watch for injuries and decrease quantity as needed: if something starts hurting, cut back on your miles.  You want to catch injuries fast so you can heal quickly and stay on the trails.  
pond and surrounding greenery in the Bogota botanical gardens
Doing an easy hike like this one in the Bogotá Botanical Gardens is a great way to get started

Our Favorite Hikes: Top Trails to Explore

The world is so full of incredible hiking trails; here are our five favorites

1. Inca Trail, Peru: This iconic 4-day trek to Machu Picchu is one of the best multi-day hikes we have ever done.  Or if you really want to get away from the crowds, choose one of the incredible Inca Trail Alternatives

2. North Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon: We hiked the North Kaibab Trail on the final ascent of our rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike.  The North Kaibab Trail has some of the best canyon views and sees fewer crowds.

3. Lake Blanche, Utah: This is one of my all-time favorite day hikes in Utah and was my first solo day hike.  It’s moderate/hard difficulty and has incredible canyon views and a pristine lake at the end.  This makes for a great weekend hike or hiking date. 

4. Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon: If you want to discover an incredible oasis of turquoise-blue waterfalls against the red rock background of the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls is a must-do backpacking adventure.

Havasu Falls cascading into a blue-green pool of water
Havasupai Falls is an incredible oasis in the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Why I Love Hiking: The Bottom Line

Hiking has become a big part of my life and helped me to see so many incredible places.  It’s helped me get outside during the winter months, spend more time with family and friends, and stay in shape.

If you are not on the hiking train, my advice is this: start slow, go with friends, and see where that takes you!  You just might (like me) decide that you love hiking and want to make it a part of your daily life.  

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