What's Driving the Increase in Hiking?
In 2010 there were 33 million folks that went hiking. By 2021 that had increased to 59 million people, almost doubling in eleven years. According to statistics from AllTrails, the number of logged hikes jumped by 171% in 2020. In 2020 1,275 miles of trails were added to the National Trail System. Clearly there's a demand and thankfully national, state and even municipal governments are working to meet that demand.
But what's driving that demand? COVID-19 clearly impacted the outdoor participation numbers. But even before that the trend was going up. I see three main drivers of this increase:
Social Media - Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, etc., are filled with pictures, stories and videos of folks enjoying the outdoors. I'm one of them. As each person uploads their photos and videos, they inspire more folks to go out into nature and do the same.
Health benefits - Multiple studies have shown that outdoor exercise, especially hiking, increases not just overall heart, muscle and lung health but provides benefits for diabetics, ADHD, bone density, blood pressure, and mental health.
A desire to reconnect or stay connected with the beauty, majesty and power of nature. For those of us living in the information dense and technologically connected world, we can often be tricked into thinking we're experiencing things. We carry around a device that can immediately provide us with 4K videos, movies and high-quality pictures. Yet no matter how high the quality of the video, it's a pale shadow of the real experience. Something in us knows this and yearns to feel the air on a hill or mountain, drink from a stream or lake, feel and smell the rain, and run our hand across trees and boulders.
I sincerely hope my website and videos have inspired and helped others to make that connection to nature.