Whether you have thousands of miles logged in the forest or you're a newbie interested in learning more about the benefits of hiking, joining a club will help you expand your horizons and get outdoors. Usually run by volunteers and driven by the enthusiasm of its members, hiking clubs are a wonderful way to learn more about your local trails, meet new friends and get some fresh air and exercise in the great outdoors. Still not convinced? Below you'll find 10 great reasons why you should join a hiking club today.
Meet Like-Minded Outdoorspeople
One of the best things about hiking clubs is that they attract members of all ages and walks of life. You may not normally have the opportunity to spend the afternoon chatting with someone 20 years older or younger than you, but when you join a hiking club, you'll get that chance. You'll probably find that no matter how different you may appear from your fellow hikers, you all have at least one thing in common: a shared love for the great outdoors. With that kind of common ground, you know you'll always find something to talk about with your new friends.
Safety in Numbers
It goes without saying that the safest way to experience the outdoors is with a buddy. While solo hiking certainly has its draws, when it comes to venturing deep into the woods, there is definitely safety in numbers. Not only can your hiking group band together should you encounter a dangerous wild animal like a bear or mountain lion, but they can also respond should you experience a medical emergency.
Learn From Others
Whether you're new to an area and hoping to learn about all of the recreational opportunities around or you've lived in the same place forever and think you know the trails like the back of your hand, there's always an opportunity to learn from those around you. The members of your hiking club will be more than happy to chat about their favorite hikes, waterfalls and swimming holes—and you may just come away with some new adventures to add to your outdoor bucket list.
The knowledge doesn't stop at new trails. From tree and plant identification, to the history of the area you are hiking through, your fellow hiking club members will share their knowledge with you and help you learn more about the place you call home.
Lessen Your Impact on the Environment
Don't have a car of your own or just feel guilty about burning fossil fuels to make it to the trailhead? Hiking clubs often have carpooling opportunities on organized hikes, meaning you can lessen your impact on the environment and help keep congestion down at trailhead parking areas, which can often become overcrowded.
Find Outlets for Stewardship
Many hiking clubs not only organize hikes but also organize volunteer days that allow you the opportunity to lend a hand maintaining the trails you love. By volunteering your time on the trails you'll not only get to give back but will also get some good bonding time in with your new hiking club friends.
Try and Test New Gear
Been eyeing those ultra-light hiking poles or that new brand of hiking boots but aren't sure whether to invest your money into new gear? Chances are someone in your hiking group is using or has used the gear you're interested in buying. Ask your hiking group for recommendations, or better yet, see if you can test out that fancy new backpack before you make the purchase yourself.
Maintain Your Motivation
We all know what it's like to plan a weekend of hiking and then, when the time comes, wake up tired and change plans. When you've committed to hiking with your hiking club, you'll be more inclined to put your boots on and meet your new friends for a few hours outdoors—even if you aren't feeling particularly motivated at first.
It's Cost Effective
Gym memberships and workout classes can be expensive, but membership to a hiking club doesn't cost much and is sometimes even free. For the low cost of membership you'll get plugged into a community of active members. Hiking clubs usually have a monthly newsletter that will clue you in to upcoming hikes and other opportunities like biking, kayaking or social activities. For a nominal fee each year you'll have the opportunity to participate in dozens of fun and active events.
Stretch Yourself in a Supportive Environment
Whether you've been hiking since you could walk or are new to the activity, hiking clubs are a great way to stretch yourself and increase your abilities. Most hiking clubs usually rank hikes in difficulty, allowing members to decide if they feel comfortable taking on the challenge. If you've never undertaken a challenging hike, a hiking club is a great way to work your way up to the hikes you might not ever feel comfortable trying on your own.
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