Wanna know a secret? For those of you thinking, “Nope, there’s no way I’m fit enough to go hiking.” Hiking is just walking…in the woods. Tadaa!

This year is Canada’s 150th and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making is super simple to access our National Parks (there are over 40 of them) and Heritage sites. Access to all of these amazing places is free this year and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by getting out there and exploring.

What better way to do that than hiking? Here are seven reasons for you to hit the trails.

1. Hiking is a FREE family activity!

Nova Scotia is home to more than 100 provincial parks – most of which contain walking and hiking trails, amazing scenery, and an opportunity to explore and learn more about the rich heritage of our natural resources. There are tons to choose from and the best part is that they’re all free.

2. Hiking makes you happy

According to a study cited in the LA Times last year, hiking in nature has been shown to improve your mood, ward off stress and perceived stressors and alleviate depression. So, the next time you’re feeling a little grouchy, head outside!

3. Hiking builds strong relationships

There’s something about heading out into nature with another person, whether that’s a friend, your partner, or your children. More often than not, exerting yourself and enjoying the fresh air together leads to deep and meaningful conversations. Time on the trail is a great opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones!

4. Hiking promotes tech-free time

While snapping a few pictures is fairly common place on the trails, you won’t find people talking on their phones or texting their friends while on the trail. Why? Maybe because it’s so beautiful and natural in the woods that tech seems out of place or maybe it’s because they can’t walk and text at the same time. Whatever the reason, we’ll take it!

5. Hiking is a fun way to get fit

Everyone knows exercise is important but we don’t always make time for it. That’s because the likelihood of sticking to an exercise routine that you don’t enjoy is slim for most people. Finding something you love to do (like hiking) means you’re more likely to stick to it!

6. Hiking builds character (well, it can if you let it)

Physical and mental challenges both await you on the trails if that’s what you’re looking for.

Whether that means scaling a cliff and conquering a fear of heights or tackling a 10-hour trek, there are endless ways to challenge yourself on the trails.

7. Hiking gives you clarity and perspective

The modern world is full of chaos and distractions but when you jump on a new trail and head into the woods, you never know what wonders you’ll find waiting for you. Nova Scotia is home to lush fern covered forest floors, waterfalls, breath-taking beaches, natural caves and incredible views just to name a few. It’s magic!