I haven’t really made any goals or New Year’s Resolutions for 2019. However, I just got the idea to make some Hiking Resolutions for the New Year. As I’ve written many times, I haven’t made it to any National Parks in a while since I have little kids now and I live a long flight or an extremely long drive from any of my favorite parks. As a result, I need to try to get out on more of the hiking trails that are close to me. I hike on occasion, usually with my five-year-old son Noah, but still not nearly as much as I’d prefer. So, I suppose that’s what made me think of making this list. These will be pretty basic, generic resolutions, but I think they could apply to just about any hiker. I’ll also add how they specifically apply to me.
- Hike more often. This should be a given. I’m 99% sure that anyone who likes to hike would like to hike more often. Between my job, kids, wife, writing, and other things to do, I don’t have a whole lot of time to go hiking these days. Let’s be honest though, everybody has stuff to do. If you don’t have kids or even a job, I’m sure there’s probably something else that keeps you busy and makes it hard to hit the trail as often as you’d like. So, in other words, we all have excuses. Those “excuses” are generally important parts of our lives, but I still think it should be possible to get on the trail more often. I definitely plan on hiking more with my son in 2019. He likes to hike, which makes me super happy and proud. I hope he continues to enjoy it as he grows older and will eventually go on long hikes and National Park adventures with me.
- Hike somewhere new. I would think most hikers would also agree this, too. I unsurprisingly like to return to my favorite trails, but also feel it is important to try new ones. I personally don’t have any vacations planned to places where I expect to hike much. Unless you count “urban hiking.” I’m sure I’ll do a ridiculous amount of hiking on pavement when I’m in Disney World with my family. Still, there’s a chance of going on a weekend trip somewhere next year to a place like Lake Placid or Watkins Glen. Otherwise, I’m sure there are some hiking options less than an hour from me that I haven’t explored before.
- Hike farther. This should be about as obvious as they come. You don’t have to necessarily hike farther than you’ve ever hiked before. Maybe just try to hike a little farther than you normally might. So, that will likely mean taking on a new trail or going to a new place to find other hiking options. Either thing can certainly be good. I’m not quite sure what this means specifically for me at this point. If I want to hike pretty far, I may have to find a new place to hike, because there aren’t many options with long trails near me. I’m sure I can find something, though.
- Hike with kids. This has been a big one for me for the last year or so. My daughter is only three so she hasn’t done too much hiking, but my son is five and has gone hiking with me several times now. He really likes it, which makes me super happy. I hope he will continue to enjoy hiking as he gets older. If you have children of your own, I encourage you to bring them hiking with you.
- Hike a more difficult trail. I would argue that the most memorable hikes are typically the more difficult ones. I think most hikers will agree with me on that. You may not have to embark on a super long or super steep trail, but the harder trails are hiked for a reason. Steep hikes will usually afford you with great views. Long hikes will take you farther away from the trailhead, which will likely mean you’ll get closer to wildlife and farther from civilization. Longer hikes are also long for a reason; they normally will take you to a nice destination; perhaps a secluded lake or a waterfall. I don’t have many difficult hikes close to me, but I could hike the Gorge Trail in Letchworth State Park, which is about an hour and a half away. I haven’t hiked that trail in years. I think there’s also a steep trail near Niagara Falls that I have never tried.
- Hike slower. This one is a little different. I’ve suggested hiking farther and a more difficult trail, but instead of hiking faster, I recommend hiking slower. That way you can see more and notice more on the trail. You should have a better chance at spotting wildlife. It will also be safer for a couple of reasons; if you go slow it should be easier to stay on the trail and you’ll be less likely to fall and get injured if you’re slow and careful. I’ve noticed that I automatically move slower on the trails when I’m hiking with Noah, because otherwise I’d leave him in my dust. His legs are half the size of mine, so there’s no way he could keep up with me if I simply hike at my normal pace. It’s good though, because it forces me to pay more attention to our surroundings.
- Hike the same trail in a different way. If you find yourself hiking the same trails a lot (most likely due to proximity) try to find ways to change your experience a little bit. There are only a few options near me, so that can be a little difficult, but there are ways. At the Anna Mae Bacon Preserve, there are several short intersecting trails, so me and Noah can mix it up, by connecting different trails and hiking in different directions. I’ve also taken him to the Eternal Flame a couple of times. There are two different trailheads there, so we’ve tried both. Other ways to mix things up could be to go in the opposite direction than normal on a loop trail or to go longer or shorter than usual on an out-and-back trail. Depending on where you are and how familiar you are with the area, maybe you could hike off-trail.
Those are a few ideas for hiking resolutions I have. I don’t think it should be too hard to do all of them. Do you have any hiking resolutions of your own?