We all have favorite hikes that we know well: close to home, scenic, familiar timeworn trails where your boots know the way almost by themselves. Sometimes they’re like old friends we know well…and they can also become routine. Here are some ways to make your favorite spot a new experience.
1. Go Dark
Get to the top before dawn, or watch the sunset from the peak and head down after dark. Challenge yourself to not use your headlamp at all. Let your mind and feet remember the trail and let silhouettes and sounds guide you. Start easy by picking a full moon, or challenge yourself with a moonless night. In addition to snagging a sunrise or sunset, you’ll change night from a time to hunker down to a time for exploration.
2. Run It
If you’re a trail runner, ditch the boots and run your favorite trail. You’ll have the advantages of being on your home turf. And nothing invigorates like a giant pile of endorphins.
3. Become a Nature Nerd
This is your home turf, so you’re the best person to notice subtle changes. When do the glacier lilies poke through the snow? When do songbirds appear in spring? When do the leaves start turning and what’s the first day that you feel the nip of all in the air? This information is more than just fun for locals to collect. It’s becoming a vital way that scientists can study the effects of climate change all over the world.
4. Capture the Seasons
Bring your camera along. Capture photos in all seasons—the first dusting of snow, summer heat and winter’s icy lockdown. Go beyond the big scenics and focus on the details.
5. Have a Sleepover
You’ve done this trail a million times—but have you made it an overnight? Bring your sleeping bag, pick the most scenic spot, and stay overnight. Sure, you could be home quickly, but we all do this this outdoor so we can sleep out under the stars.
6. Share It
Don’t try and protect your favorite spot so nobody will find it. People protect places they love, and the more who love your favorite spot, the more likely they are to do what it takes to keep it wild, from helping with trail maintenance, managing invasive species, or raising their voices when a threat arises. As Edward Abbey said, wild places don’t need defending so much as they just need more defenders. Share “your” spot with your pals.