Places to Hike

Many new hikers feel more comforable in a group. There are probably hiking and outings clubs in any metro area. A web search will locate many of these. If there is an outings store, such as Recreational Equipment Incorporated in the area, often local clubs leave their newsletters therein.

Conservation organizations such as the Sierra Club
and the Audubon Society
offer national and local outings.

A growing number of commercial groups offer hikes around the world. Many of these offer women-only trips. Often women who are new to hiking prefer these types of ventures, figuring that men will make fun of them because they are newbies, or that they won't be able to keep up with a group of men.

A skilled professional guide will not allow anyone in the group to make new hikers feel uncomfortable, and will also not allow a fast hiker to set the pace for those who wish a more leisurely trek. However, women's groups are a lot of fun. It has been my experience, after fourty-plus years working in the outdoor recreation/education field, that women's groups tend to approach adventure light-heartedly. A group of all men only talk about sports and politics.

Most National Parks are affiliated with a not-for-profit Association (like Grand Canyon Association, or Yellowstone Assocation. And some of the larger parks also offer guided educational hikes through a Field Institute which works under the banner of these Associations. These organizations emphasize stewardship and education, and any profits are donated to their affiliated National Parks.

There are also hiking companies which provide all food and cooking, and some will even haul your gear in for you. Naturally, the more services provided, the more this venture will cost.

There are guidebooks available for your local areas. Some are more useful than others. State parks often have hiking trails.

Many National Forests have day hikes and backpacking trails. Wilderness Areas may be officiated by National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, or National Parks. A National Wilderness does not allow motorized travel or permanent structures within its boundaries, so the only way in is to walk or ride an equine (no bikes).

The National Park System has 397 units, many of which are wild areas with hiking opportunities. The Park websites have downloadable maps, information on permits (if required) and most National Parks offer free trip-planning materials for hikers. Many new hikers, and particularly women, feel more comfortable in a National Park where backcountry rangers make their presence known.

The Park I am most familiar with is Grand Canyon. One of the premier hikes in the Park is the rim-to-rim and it also has a Grand Canyon Field Institute which offers half-day to multi-day classes on and below the Rim.