Family Hikes: How to Improve Your Family’s Health (and Have FUN Doing It!)

Millions of Americans struggle to get the recommended amount of physical activity daily. This has led to a health epidemic in many ways. If you are worried about your family’s well-being, there are ways to make getting active more fun. 

Family hikes are wonderful bonding opportunities that make you sweat, increase your heart rate, and get you out in nature. Follow this guide to get the entire family moving and increase everyone’s health and happiness while you’re at it.

Health Problems in the Modern World

It is no secret that most people spend too much time sitting down and not enough time moving around. However, the health consequences of this phenomenon are more devastating than you may think. 

Being physically inactive can increase your risk for certain cancers, mental illnesses, and even disabilities. So what gives? Why are people facing these problems in the 21st century? It comes down to the lifestyle changes we have all faced in the last hundred years. 

Increased Screen Time

Cell phones, laptops, computers, and television rule the modern world. The invention and common use of screens have hurt us in many ways, both physically and mentally. 

The average American adult spends between four and six hours a day looking at a screen. It is even worse for children. The average American kid spends five to seven hours a day in front of a screen. In contrast, most major health organizations recommend against any screen time at all before the age of three years. 

The bottom line is that we spend too much time looking at screens. Increased screen time leads to less physical activity. Most screen-based activities do not require you to stand up or move around. As a society, we have become more sedentary. 

Screen time also gets in the way of our social relationships. When we are looking at a screen, we spend less time connecting with the people around us. This can interfere with crucial family bonding moments. 


Obesity has become a public health epidemic. Nearly half of all American adults are obese. The term “obesity” is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over. 

When you are too overweight in comparison to your height, your risk for various health problems rises drastically. Many American adults are obese because of poor diets, lack of physical activity, and socioeconomic factors. 

Screen time, social disconnection during the recent pandemic, and sedentary lifestyles have all contributed to rising obesity rates. Being overweight or obese makes physical activity more difficult. 

If you and your family members struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, there are solutions. Activities like family hikes can boost your health and combat the medical effects of obesity. 

The Benefits of Taking Family Hikes

Do not be discouraged by all of the modern problems we face as a society. Change starts with you – right in your home. 

Adding family hikes to your weekly schedule can improve your family’s social, emotional, and physical health in multiple ways. You can enjoy all of these benefits and more when you make the time to go out in nature together. 

Cardiovascular Exercise

Hiking usually involves large hills or mountains, which means you have to work harder to get to the top than you would on flat land. The result? Your heart rate increases, and you burn more calories!

Cardiovascular exercise is important for your physical and mental health. Your heart is a muscle, and the more you challenge it, the stronger it gets. Cardiovascular exercises improve your circulation and overall heart health. 

If you dread hopping on the treadmill or elliptical, family hikes can be a much better form of cardio exercise for you and your family.

Improved Mental Health

When you are outdoors, your mental health benefits. Science has shown that sun exposure boosts feelings of happiness while combating symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

If you and your family struggle with poor mental health and mood swings, try going for family hikes often. Even if it is not sunny outside, you will still reap the mental health benefits of natural exercise. Moving your body produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that make you return for more.

Family Bonding

Much of your evenings and weekends probably consist of screen time, running errands, and completing household chores. It can be hard to fit in bonding opportunities with your family. 

Family hikes bring you and your relatives closer together. There are no opportunities for screen time, so you are able to connect on a deeper level. Being in nature together also creates many opportunities for collaborative problem-solving and communication. 

Exploring beautiful places is always a fun experience, no matter your physical health. You can boost your health and well-being by getting outdoors and participating in family hikes year-round. 

Beautiful Places for Family Hikes

Looking to jump-start your family’s hiking journey? We have compiled a list of gorgeous, well-traveled hiking destinations in rural North Carolina. If you are in or near Avery County, check out these popular hiking destinations with your family. 

Linville Falls Gorge

If you want a destination to look forward to while hiking gorgeous trails, look no further than Linville Falls Gorge. Located on the southern border of Avery County, this beautiful gorge is full of natural rock formations and waterfalls. Easy-to-follow trails will lead you to gorgeous sightseeing areas in Linville Falls Gorge. 

Tanawha Trail

Now part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail in Avery County, the Tanawha Trail is 13.5 miles long and is perfect for family hikes. The trail ends at a campground in Watauga County, so you can take the opportunity to camp out with the whole family at the end of your hike!

Trash Can Falls

Don’t judge a hike by its name now. Also known at Laurel Creek Falls (the official name), this hike near Boone used to feature a dumpster at the pull-off location which is where it got its nickname from. It’s an amazing swimming hole appropriate for the whole family. A quick trek to the top of the falls and there’s a great, flat piece of land with calm running water where you can easily hang out with the fam.

Profile Trail

Grandfather Mountain is one of the biggest attractions in the High Country and between the attraction and the state park, there are many trails you can traverse. Perhaps the most popular is the three-and-a-half-mile trail called Profile Trail as it features views a plenty, takes you through seven different natural communities, and is distance friendly enough for a family. Although the distance is manageable, it does include high steeps in elevation so this hike is a bit more strenuous. 

Roan Mountain

Not far of a drive from Bakersville and the Toe River Health District’s headquarters is beautiful Roan Mountain. Although a bit deceiving in name as it is actually five ridgetops instead of just one peak, this 5-mile hike is a stunner. There are plenty of resting points that can double as family photo opportunities. Make sure to pack a lunch and some water before you head out on your trek.

Protect Your Loved Ones’ Health

We are happy to help you curate a healthy, active lifestyle for yourself and your family. If you have any questions or concerns about the health and wellness of a loved one in your life, contact us!