The Buzz

Need a good reason to take a hike? Here are four

(Photo by Chad Merda)

"Take a hike" may not usually be intended as a kind suggestion, but you're certainly free to take it as one and use it as an opportunity to hit the trails and take advantage of all of the good you can get from a hike.

Not sure where to go? Visit your nearest forest preserve. We've got miles and miles of hiking trails criss-crossing the county. Here are some reasons to make time for a hike. 

It's good for your physical health

Hiking is great exercise and can be a good cardiovascular workout. This is especially true if you're hiking a trail or path with a few hills or inclines, because these will make your heart work harder, according to Harvard Medical School

It's not just your heart that's getting a good workout. Hiking can also build stronger and healthier bones and muscles and improve your sense of balance. When done regularly, it can decrease the risk of respiratory conditions as well, reports the National Park Service

And your mental health

It's not a stretch to say that hiking is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. In fact, spending two hours a week outside provides a significant boost to your mental health and well-being, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.  

Among the many beneficial effects of time spent in the great outdoors is the lowering of stress levels, notes Harvard Medical School. And because stress can affect your physical health — increasing your blood pressure and, in turn, your risk of heart disease — making time for a hike is good for your body and soul.

It's a great, big, beautiful world out there

Sure, the Grand Canyon is a stunning sight to behold, but you don't have to travel far from home to be inspired by all of the beauty in nature. There's plenty to see right here in Will County, along the Forest Preserve District's more than 130 miles of trails.

Whether you want to hike in the woods or in the prairie or along a creek or a pond, you're sure to be impressed with all the forest preserves have to offer. Not sure where to go? Try these best places to hike in Will County.


It can strengthen bonds

If you're heading out for a hike today, ask a friend or family member to join you. Hiking with a partner or with a group of people can help strengthen your relationships, according to the National Park Service. Even a strenuous hike is a casual way to spend time with people, and it gives you something to focus on while also talking about other things going on in your lives. 

Hiking with a partner or group is good for your safety too. The Forest Preserve encourages trail users to travel with a buddy as a best practice. If you're traveling alone, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.

You can complete a local version of the triple crown

The Forest Preserve is challenging hikers to complete the local version of a hiking triple crown by hiking the three longest trails in Will County before June 30. In the hiking world, the true triple crown is hiking the three longest trails in the United States: the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest Trail. In our local spin on it, hikers can hike the 22-mile Wauponsee Glacial Trail, 14 miles of the Old Plank Road Trail and 13 miles of the I&M Canal State Trail.  

Trails on the Will County Triple Crown Challenge can be hiked in full or in segments. Those who complete the challenge before June 30 will receive an adjustable bottle sling cooler with a zipper pouch made from post-consumer plastic. 

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