Where to Hike
Where can your group go hiking? First are cities. I’ve walked hundreds of miles through virtually every major metropolitan area in the United States, as well as numerous European cities. I’ve explored countless off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, seen amazing architecture and met many interesting people, and I have never felt physically threatened.
The same holds true for port calls on both ocean and river cruises. Rather than — or in addition to — an optional shore excursion, why not occasionally get a map and head out on your own?
Evening walks around town after dinner on a river cruise are particularly enjoyable, as they offer a leisurely way to experience the sights and lights of the city. Again, I’ve gone hiking by myself in cities from Santiago, Chile, to Helsinki, Finland; Hong Kong to Budapest, Hungary, without problem. Your group can do the same without cause for concern.
Of course, there is an incredible wealth of choices for day hiking throughout our federal lands. Obvious destinations include the national parks, monuments and historic sites that are part of our national park system, but there are also many national forests, monuments and wilderness areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and even recreation areas managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
All of the agencies publish brochures and maintain Internet websites that list and describe their hiking trails, including information on length, accessibility, vertical gain and a rating of easy, moderate or strenuous.
Whatever you choose for your group members, remind them to not be in a hurry or risk overexertion but to pause along the way to smell the flowers, observe the wildlife and record memorable experiences with their cameras.