It’s probably no surprise that hiking is good for your health, but it might surprise you that the benefits reach from head to toe!
Check out the brain and body benefits of hiking:
Benefits for your brain
Get creative! Going for a hike can promote creative thinking. Research shows that spending time outdoors may increase your attention span and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50%.
Relax: Nature sounds along the trail — like birds and rushing water — have been shown to lower stress levels.
Energize: A walk in the woods can help alleviate mental fatigue.
Get social: Hitting the trails with family and friends is a great way to spend time together and forge bonds doing something you enjoy.
Benefits for your body
Tone your upper body: Adding hiking poles ensures that your upper body gets a great work out too. Your shoulders, arms and back will thank you!
Get heart healthy: Regular exercise like hiking is good for cardiovascular health and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Give bones a boost: Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise which means you can boost bone density on the trails.
Give your joints a break: The softer surface means trails are easier on your joints that walking on sidewalks or paved roads.
Tone your lower body: Hiking is great at toning muscles especially in quads, glutes and hamstrings. Add some hills or uneven terrain for an even better cardio workout and to burn more calories.
Choose your next adventure!
Ontario Parks has 1800 km of trails varying from easy family-friendly trails to challenging trails for the adventurous. Here’s a small sample of what’s available across the province at Ontario Parks:
Rondeau Provincial Park: Tulip Tree Trail
This 1 km trail travels through a mature Carolinian forest where hikers can see Carolinian trees that are rare in Ontario such as tulip trees, sassafras, and shagbark hickory. The trail is mostly boardwalk and wheelchair accessible, and an all-terrain wheelchair is available for loan.
Arrowhead Provincial Park: Stubb’s Falls Trail
This 2 km trail takes you to Stubb’s Falls, where the Little East River rushes down a rock chute. A great place to relax and enjoy the rushing water.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park: Marsh Trail
This 1.2 km loop includes 800 m of boardwalk complete with two viewing towers and a teaching platform — why not pack a picnic! Sixteen interpretive panels illustrate the story of the marsh and its inhabitants. The boardwalk portion of the trail is barrier-free.
White Lake Provincial Park: Tiny Bog Trail
This 4.5 km trail loops around two large beaver ponds and then climbs a sandy ridge of Jack pines before arriving at the bog. A boardwalk crosses the bog where insect-eating plants such as sundew and pitcher plant grow in a carpet of floating sphagnum moss. You’ll find a viewing platform at the bog and benches along the trail.
Mississagi Provincial Park: Helenbar Lookout Trail
This 7 km trail leads up a gradually sloping ridge and peaks (literally) at the breath-taking Helenbar Lookout. The trail moves on, heading down the slope again eventually passing through a stand of huge old growth eastern hemlock before rejoining the Semiwite Lake Trail.
Find a trail nearby
For more information on hiking trails in parks, check out the “Activities” tab on the individual park pages or learn more about hiking in Ontario Parks here.
You can also search for trails near you using our Park Locator tool.
Want to try a guided hike?
Our naturalists are always planning fun nature hikes. Check our events page for hikes near you. Here’s a few to get you started:
- May 7 — Frontenac Provincial Park: Spring Nature Walk
- May 8 — Sandbanks Provincial Park: Springs Things Tour and Wildflower Wander
- May 11 — Wheatley Provincial Park: Norm Chesterfield Bird Tour
- May 15 — Frontenac Provincial Park: Spring Bird Walk
- May 21 & 22 — The Pinery Provincial Park: Spring Wildflowers Hike
Healthy Parks, Healthy People
Research shows that spending time in nature is good for our physical and mental health, and hiking is just one of the ways to include more nature in our lives. This is why Ontario Parks has embraced the worldwide Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement which encourages everyone to spend more time in nature.