It’s probably no surprise that hiking is good for your health, but it may surprise you that the benefits extend from head to toe!
See the benefits of hiking for the brain and body:
Benefits for your brain
Be creative! Taking a walk can promote creative thinking. Research shows that spending time outdoors can increase your attention span and creative problem-solving skills by up to 50%.
Chill out: Nature sounds along the trail, such as birds and running water, have been shown to reduce stress levels.
Energize: A walk in the woods can help relieve mental fatigue.
Socialize: Hiking trails with family and friends is a great way to spend time together and bond doing something you enjoy.
Benefits for your body
Tone your upper body: Adding hiking poles ensures that your upper body gets a good workout too. Your shoulders, arms and back will thank you!
Get a healthy heart: Regular exercise, such as hiking, is good for cardiovascular health and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Give your bones a boost: Hiking is weight-bearing exercise, which means you can increase bone density on the trails.
Give your joints a break: The softer surface means that trails are easier on the joints than walking on sidewalks or paved roads.
Tone your lower body: Hiking is great for toning your muscles, especially your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Add some hills or uneven terrain for an even better cardio workout and more calorie burn.
Choose your next adventure!
Ontario Parks has 1,800 km of trails ranging from easy trails for families 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 runs through a mature Carolina forest where hikers can see Carolina trees that are rare in Ontario, such as tulips, sassafras, and hickory. The trail is primarily boardwalk and wheelchair accessible, and an all-terrain wheelchair can be borrowed.
Arrowhead Provincial Park: Stubb Falls Trail
This 2km trail takes you to Stubb’s Falls, where the Little East River flows down a rock slide. A great place to relax and enjoy the running water.
Peninsula Provincial Park: swamp trail
This 1.2 km circuit includes 800 m of boardwalk with two observation towers and a teaching platform. Why not prepare a picnic? Sixteen interpretive panels illustrate the history of the swamp and its inhabitants. The part of the trail that passes by the boardwalk has no barriers.
White Lake Provincial Park: Small swamp trail
This 4.5 km trail circles two large beaver ponds and then climbs a sandy pine ridge before reaching the swamp. A boardwalk crosses the marsh where insect-eating plants such as sundew and pitcher plant grow on a carpet of floating sphagnum moss. You’ll find a viewing platform in the swamp and benches along the trail.
Mississagi Provincial Park: Helenbar Viewing Trail
This 7km trail climbs a gradually sloping ridge and peaks (literally) at the stunning Helenbar Lookout. The trail continues, heading downhill again and eventually passing a stand of huge, ancient eastern hemlock before joining the Semiwite Lake Trail.
Find a nearby trail
For more information on park hiking trails, see the “Activities” tab on 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.
Healthy Parks, Healthy People
Research shows that spending time in nature is good for our physical and mental health, and hiking is just one way to include more nature in our lives. This is why Ontario Parks has embraced the global community Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement that encourages everyone to spend more time in nature.