Four reasons to add a hike to your Thanksgiving plans

Turkey. Pumpkin Pie. Apple Pie. Salted Caramel Pecan Pie.

Can you tell we really love pie?

We also like wearing normal pants to work and leaving our elastic waist pants at home, which means a little friendly exercise may be in order this weekend. And if you’ve got serious pie plans like us, we’ve got four reasons you should hit the trails this holiday weekend.

Reason #1: Burn, baby, burn

According to Livestrong.com, one hour of hiking burns between 430 and 460 calories if a person weighs 160 pounds. The amount of calories burned doesn’t just vary based on weight; it also varies based on terrain. Because most of Southwest Florida is flat, we probably burn less calories, but the article says nothing about how the high humidity makes us sweat buckets. And, since Americans consume between 3,000 and 4,000 calories during Thanksgiving Dinner, a few hours on the trail Thursday before turkey time might be a good idea.

Reason #2: Nature therapy

Trail running, forest bathing, communing with nature, hugging the trees – however it is that you enjoy the outdoors, you are getting actual benefits. Spending time outdoors can have significant positive impacts on your health – including reducing stress. Hit the trails and hike away the family drama or Black Friday shopping trauma – whatever you need to escape from, let the fresh air and warm Florida sun wash it all away.

photo credit: Bill Zaino

Reason #3: Make memories

We see it all too often during our education programs – today’s kids just don’t have the freedom and opportunity to run wild outside. Make some memories this weekend with your kids and grandkids and take a hike. Not sure what you’re doing? Grab a map at the kiosk and head out to the observation tower at the CREW Marsh trails – there and back is a very manageable (approximately) one mile hike. Your curious guests may ask a ton of questions but remember that, to enjoy nature, you don’t have to KNOW nature. Not sure what that purple wildlfower is? Download an app ahead of time to identify it OR just call it a PPW (pretty purple wildflower). Or completely make up a name because your six year old niece has no idea whether or not that flower is called a Pecanpie regretticus.

Reason #4: Florida fall

Yes, we actually do have fall here in Florida. It’s the tail end of our fall wildflower season and the red maples are turning glorious color and dropping their foliage. If you truly miss the smell of falling leaves, head out to the CREW Marsh Trails and scuff your feet through the thin layer of maple leaves that is collecting on the boardwalk. The cypress trees in Bird Rookery Swamp are changing colors as well and will soon briefly lose their needles. And don’t forget about the animals – the red-shouldered hawks are really active right now as they prepare for mating season. Unlike most animals on the trails, the noisy shrieks of the hawks completely overpowers any loud little children you’ve brought with you.

 

If you do hit the trails this weekend, please remember to do so safely – take water, wear closed-toe shoes (to protect against fire ants), grab a map from the kiosk and turn back towards the parking lot before you feel tired. And remember to practice the leave no trace principles – leave nothing but footprints.

 

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