Take a (Virtual) Hike!

It’s tough not to be able to get outdoors right now, but you can spend time looking at images of nature to relax and revitalize. This science backed option opens the door to plenty of fun ways to enjoy the outside with the added benefit of a great new way to add a little fun to your workout session! If you’ve already enjoyed the Google Maps of National Parks, we suggest a few other options including a 4K virtual hike and a virtual hike of the Appalachian trail!

Queue up the videos, set the treadmill to a walking pace, and pop in those earbuds to enjoy our top six favorite virtual hikes.

#1 Baker River and Chain Lake

Complete with colorful fall foliage and a bubbling river at your side, this tranquil hike in Mount Baker takes you through forested mountains and slender rocky trails twenty feet above the water’s edge— all without the danger of tripping on slippery leaves. With 4K sharp quality, you’ll be able to see every blade of grass rustle with the wind as you enjoy the peaceful surround sound of nature, interrupted only with the steady trudge of the  hiker’s steps on this serene two hour hike. 

#2 Bryce Canyon National Park

 Want to see the red rocks of Utah without having to hop on a plane? This stunning hike winds you through the twisty Navajo loop trail and over wooden bridges as passing hikers wave you by, giving you the sense of actually being there in person. This is a shorter walk at only an hour and a half, which makes it perfect for a training simulator while preparing for your next big trip. The video additionally comes with relaxing  background music, which you can mute or play depending on your mood.

#3 Moraine Lake Banff National Park

This shorter beauty is just twenty minutes long, the perfect length for a midday exercise and formatted for use along with a treadmill or stationary bike. Watch as the camera walks you alongside the impossibly blue Moraine Lake, shadowed by Alberta’s snow-spotted skyscraper mountains in the distance. While the quality is a touch below the past two’s 4K resolution, the soft hush of water and chorus of birds more than makes up for it as the ideal accompaniment to a quick workout or cool down session. 

#4 Redwood National Park

Lush wildlife? Check. Peaceful birdsong? Double check. Trees so cartoonishly enormous they grow right through the wooden bridge your camera carrier walks along? You’d better believe it. This video does a fantastic job of encapsulating how impossibly high the trees in  Redwood are. As the forest towers above, there’s an almost supernatural sensation as peaceful piano music accompanies the walker’s steady footsteps. This hike is equally useful as the background to a walk or even a yoga session. 

#5 Secluded Sunset Beach

Here’s a break from all the green foliage and towering trees; this hour long hike will have you meandering up and down the dunes as the waves wash out the low tide. Keep your eyes peeled for seashells and scuttling sandcrabs as you chase after the wispy clouds of sand, or simply bask in the glow of the slowly setting sun. It’s the perfect beach getaway without the hassle of travel and sand getting absolutely everywhere, and will be sure to leave you feeling just as relaxed and smooth as a freshly washed seashell. 

#6  The Appalachian Trail 

This one’s a little bit of a deviation from the others but offers a fun way to keep motivated and log your miles as you travel the world through the screen of your device. Walk the Distance is a great app that starts you at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail and charts your progress all the way to Maine while you race, motivate and strive to beat your fellow virtual hikers to be the first to reach Mount Katahdin. It’s the perfect way to start training for the physical hike yourself, or to simulate the experience for those who haven’t the time or resources to try the real deal. Backpacker offers another fun way to track your progress along a three dimensional map, with shelters and waypoints helpfully marked along the way. Pair some virtual walking videos of the trail and you’ll be well on your way to a realistic simulation of the Appalachian Trail without having to forgo the amenities of civilization.

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