We all have a favorite trail – one that we return to year after year. But what happens when that beloved National Forest trail gets a little too familiar? Try some of the following suggestions to make your next hike just as special as the first:


There’s no better place to learn than a forest. Before hitting the trail, familiarize yourself with the plants and animals that call it home. There are a several guidebooks for each region featuring common wildlife you’ll see on your adventure. Whether it is spring trillium or the sappy sugar maple, identifying these species is great way to connect with forests. 

Share a fun fact with your hiking partner. Learn about invasive species threatening the trees. Do you know which morning bird songs you’ll hear? Find out by researching ahead of time or asking a local National Forest ranger. 

Leave No Trace

Do Your Part

Spice up your hike by doing your part to protect the forest ecosystem. Though most outdoor enthusiasts follow the Leave No Trace principles when adventuring, litter is still common in National Forests. Microtrash consists of the small, grain-sized pieces of garbage like plastic bottle caps and gum wrappers. Unfortunately, this small-sized litter can have a big impact on the wildlife.

Take along a small bag to collect litter as you hike. If you’re the competitive type, make it a competition with your hiking buddy to see who will pick up the most microtrash! Children and adults alike can appreciate having fun while helping the forest. 

Try Forest Bathing or Mindfulness

For centuries, Japanese tradition has recommended forests for healing. Forest bathing – also known as forest therapy – has been proven to reduce stress causing hormones and systolic blood pressure. But you don’t need to be under significant stress to benefit from forests. In fact, anyone can do it! 

To feel the healing powers of the forest, just take a quiet walk and be mindful of the sounds, scents, and beauty of the environment around you.

National Forest Foundation