National Hiking Day

National Hiking Day - Sunday, November 17, 2024

Environmental Health Wildlife

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. 

National Hiking Day timeline

​October 1, 2013 - September 30, 2014

Paying it forward

​Volunteers put in 241,936 hours maintaining the Appalachian Trail for future hikers to enjoy.


​The U.S. recognized trails

​The National Trails System was established in 1965.


​Higher and Higher

​A team of mountaineers reached Elbrus - the highest mountain in Europe.


The mountains start calling

In 1838, Scottish-American environmentalist John Muir is born, arguably the father of modern hiking and outdoorsmanship. 


Trailblazing begins

In 1819 one of the first, major manicured hiking trails is created to lead up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. 

18th Century

Meandering meaning

The idea that pleasure can be found by walking through the woods (aimlessly or for conquest) didn't come around until the 18th century. Until then it was regarded as an indication of poverty. 

National Hiking Day FAQs

Is today National Hiking Day?

It sure is if it’s November 17! Lace up those boots and hit a trail. If you have a friend to join you, even better, but if not, its a wonderful solo adventure that just might give you the brain time to work through your stickiest problems. 

Is there a national camping day?

Yes, there is. We break out our tents, sleeping bags, and camping stoves for National Camping Day is every year on November 19. 

What day is National Hike Day?

National Hiking Day is every year on November 17. But if you’ve read this far you know this already. So take no offense when we tell you to “take a hike.”

What national days are in December?

There are a plethora of national days in the month of December. Make sure you check out National Today to stay up to date on your favorites!

Walk This Way: 3 Fascinating Hiking Stats

  1. ​Not just a walk in the park

    ​If you hike the entire Appalachian Trail, you’ll be walking between five to seven months.

  2. ​It’s what the people want

    ​In 2008, “proximity to trails” was the most important amenity to prospective home buyers (this outranked things like access to shopping, golf courses, security, etc.).

  3. ​It Makes You Appreciate Your Food

    ​Believe it or not, hiking makes food (like freeze-dried foods or energy bars) taste up to 35 percent better.

How to Observe National Hiking Day

  1. The most obvious: Take a hike

    There’s nothing like getting out in the great outdoors. Grab some hiking boots, a sack lunch, a backpack, and some water, and hit the trail! Once you start, you’ll wonder why you don’t do this more often.

  2. Share your experiences

    Proud of your accomplishment? Take photos and share your hiking experiences on social media! Add hashtags like #NationalTrailsDay and #TakeAHike to inspire others to go out in the great outdoors.

  3. Take a "Volunteer Vacation"

    Hiking in exotic and diverse locations, all while giving back and building/maintaining trails all around the world. What could be better? Check out the American Hiking Society’s “Volunteer Vacation” for information on how you can make this dream a reality.

Why National Hiking Day is Important

  1. Hiking gives you perspective

    Amazing things happen when we get out of the house/office, off our phones, and into nature. Suddenly we start appreciating the beauty around us. Plus, the constant movement allows an outlet that helps our minds focus on solving the problems it’s been trying to figure out all week. Hiking is so effective that Cheryl Strayed (author of the book “Wild”) attributes hiking as the solution that helped her cope with her divorce, drug use, and her mother’s death.

  2. Hiking makes you happy

    Endorphins and serotonin make people happy — and you get plenty of them when you’re hiking. These hormones help fight off anxiety, prevent loneliness and depression, and improve your mood. Plus, if you bring a friend along, you’re sure to have a good time.

  3. Hiking is for every age

    Whether it’s hiking the Appalachian Trail or simply walking a well-worn path, nearly every person of every age can go hiking. Plus, since you get to choose the location, the path, and often the terrain, you get to decide how much you want to push yourself.

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