by Leslie Horton MA, MCHES, Director, Health Officer Yavapai County Community Health Services
Prescott has become a mecca for hikers, with amazing weather, well-groomed trails and stunning scenery. Hiking is also an excellent low-impact workout and offers multiple physical and mental benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving mental well-being, burning calories, building muscle and preventing osteoporosis.
Unlike walking on a treadmill or a paved path, hiking involves more, sometimes unpredictable, variables. Of course, these variables are part of what makes it so enjoyable! Use the following hiking tips to make your first treks successful:
- Select a hike a little shorter than the distance you can normally walk on a level or paved surface.
- Familiarize yourself with the trail.
- Check the weather, and wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.
- Tell someone where you’ll be.
- Pack a map (City of Prescott provides a great hiking map), sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen), a flashlight, first-aid supplies, extra snacks and extra water.
- Wear the right shoes and socks. Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes and wool or synthetic socks for comfort.
- Dress for success. Skip cotton anything – it gets damp and stays that way. Synthetics are best, and wear layers, so you can add or shed as needed. Light layers also provide sun protection on sunny days.
- Keep it light – don’t carry too much! Opt for the lightest version of each item.
- Pace yourself.
- Leave no trace.
What’s TrekAbout All About?
TrekAbout, a walking club sponsored by City of Prescott Parks & Recreation, Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS), The Highland Center for Natural History and community volunteers, has a very low ($18/year) annual fee.
Anywhere from 10-40 adults gather at various trailheads according to a monthly calendar of hikes, which is issued to all TrekAbout members and can be found on the City of Prescott website. Copies are also available in the Prescott YMCA. These enthusiastic hikers meet every Tuesday for an hour and every Thursday for a more intensive two-hour hike.
YCCHS health educators, who guide some of these scheduled hikes, suggest that participants carry water, wear hiking boots for foot comfort and bring any other supplies needed for their outdoor comfort, such as bug spray or sunscreen.
The TrekAbout hikes all vary in difficulty and distance. New members quickly find which hikes are easy for them and which ones challenge their ability and notice how their personal fitness has improved after several weeks of increased physical activity.
If interested in joining, call Prescott Parks & Recreation at 928-777-1122, or visit the City of Prescott website at Prescott-az.com for more information.
Verde Valley Trekabout
An offshoot of the Prescott group – Verde Valley Trekabout group – was started about two-and-a-half years ago by Jen Mabery, a Community Health Educator with Yavapai County Community Health Services. They started out small and kept up the local advertising. At first, the hikes were only getting one to three people. However, as the word got out to our local residents that there was a walking/hiking club that provided a safe, fun and positive way to get out and explore, it took off! The group meets every Tuesday morning (times change throughout the year) all year long. The group has grown to at least 15 to 20 people who regularly meet each Tuesday. For more information please email email@example.com or visit us on Facebook.com/Trekabout.