At SaladPower, we are firm believers in the sublime power of spending time in the great outdoors. The body of research continues to expand and further affirm the vast health benefits of getting outside and immersing in nature, from reduced stress to an enhanced ability to fight tumors and infections. So let’s explore an excellent resource for spending more time in nature: the impressive trail systems veining through the United States.
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech to Congress on the “Conservation and Preservation of Natural Beauty,” which led to the formation of the National Trails System. As of 2015, the mileage of trails on federal lands had ballooned to 193,500 from 88,000 miles in 1965. This is in addition to the tens of thousands of miles on state and local land.
There are 11 National Scenic Trails, long-distance trails of natural, scenic, or historical importance, including the Appalachian Trail, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. There are also 19 National Historic Trails and 1,244 National Recreation Trails. And all of them are open for public use and enjoyment.
If you’re not sure where to find hikes near you, we encourage you to check out the American Hiking Society’s comprehensive, crowd-sourced trail map. This tool allows you to pinpoint trails appropriate for your skill level as well.
And if there are no parks or trails near you yet, then hopefully there will be soon, thanks to a growing effort by government officials, non-profit organizations, and dedicated citizens to ensure Americans have adequate access to natural environments. Bolstered by the mounting body of science linking time in nature and public health, the policies of our institutions are finally reflecting what Henry David Thoreau intuited in 1853, when he wrote: “For all Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. She exists for no other end. Do not resist her.”