Sponsored by BREC
Photos by Jordan Hefler
Chirping birds, trees rustling in the wind, a refreshing escape from everyday life. Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. It is the foundation on which others like camping, backpacking, and rock climbing are based. Making time regularly to get outside for even a short hike can improve your core strength and balance, reduce your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and contribute to your overall mental health and well-being. Hiking makes you stronger—both physically and mentally.
Every day we are bombarded with an excess of stimuli and information. Researchers believe this overwhelms our brains and results in lowered cognitive resources. This limits our creativity and problem-solving abilities. Getting back to nature, away from these stimuli, restores our circuits and recharges our brain power. Some people wince at the thought, but hiking doesn’t have to be intense and you don’t have to travel far. BREC maintains 65 miles of pedestrian trails throughout Baton Rouge and there is sure to be a path or trail very near your own backyard. With a path for every skill level, BREC maintains over 20 paved walking paths and loops for a relaxing stroll or lower-impact exercise along with over 30 miles of hiking trails for a richer nature experience.
TAKE A HIKE
Nature trails like those at the Blackwater Conservation area and Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center have more developed hiking trails that are great for small children and people of any skill level. These trails are often wider with more even surfaces and boardwalks and bridges for easy passage over wet areas. Nature trails often provide interpretive signage with information about the park’s natural or cultural history. These trails tend to be located in parks with amenities like bathrooms, drinking fountains and shelter, great for a quick excursion with your family or during a lunch break.
Primitive hiking trails allow hikers to experience nature within BREC’s Conservation Areas or forested land in community and neighborhood parks like Manchac Park or Forest Community Park. Primitive trails like the ones at Kendalwood Conservation Area and Frenchtown Conservation Area, are relatively narrow and minimally developed with a dirt surface, often uneven footing and directional signage. The trails may require small creek or ditch crossings and may be muddy in wet conditions. Check specific park pages for information prior to visiting to know which amenities are provided and if there are restrictions such as no dogs allowed. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes and bring water, sunscreen and insect repellent.
JOIN THE CAUSE
BREC Conservation also provides volunteer opportunities based on your interests. If the force is calling you to help out, you can join BREC’s Green Force Volunteer Program. You can help BREC make a greener, healthier East Baton Rouge Parish by assisting with trail maintenance, forest management and educational outreach after a short training course. Visit volunteer.brec.org for more information.