Residents of the Pacific Northwest love to be outdoors year round. We explore mountains, coastline, rivers, and rainforests…most of which are do-able as epic day-trips for all ages and agility levels. If you prefer meandering through the woods on a sunny spring Saturday or loading up gear for an immersive getaway to clouded peaks, there’s something for everyone.
Experts from Harvard Medical School report that “Nearly everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability, can find a hike that offers the right level of personal challenge.” They explain that “Like brisk walking, hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, particularly if your route includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder. Taking a hike on the slightly uneven surface of a trail also provides a natural way to engage the core muscles in your torso and to hone your balance skills.”
It’s good for your mind, too.
“Yet another benefit of hiking may be the restorative and stress-relieving powers of being outside in nature. A number of small studies hint that spending time in green space—nature preserves, woodlands, and even urban parks—may ease people’s stress levels. Giving the growing consensus that stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease risk, anything you can do to mitigate stress is likely helpful.”
But hiking can open the door to injury. Common, and easily preventable, injuries include dehydration (pack water), sunburn (sunscreen), blisters and cuts (Band-Aid, anyone?), and sprains (proper shoes and trekking poles if needed). But some injuries may require treatment by your primary care doctor or a licensed chiropractor. Let Dr. Chani Henderson, herself an avid athlete and outdoorswoman, get you back on your feet again.
The Vancouver area, where Dr. Henderson’s Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic is located, is surrounded by many ideal hiking spots.
For hikers with strollers, wheelchairs, or just wanting to take it slow, consider the Doetsch Walking Path Trailhead at Beacon Rock State Park. Approximately 30 miles east of Vancouver, this 1.2 mile loop has Columbia River views and showcases the 850 foot Beacon Rock itself.
The trail is almost perfectly flat, rated ‘easy’ by Washington State Parks staff, and contains lots of benches, interpretive signage, and wildlife viewpoints.
Note that there is a second, more difficult, hike at the Park which climbs to the top of Beacon Rock. Make sure you don’t mix the two up!
Not sure what level you are? Want teens and tweens offline and outdoors? New puppy have energy to burn? Hit up Lacamas Regional Park. Only 15 miles from Vancouver, this 312 acre park has it all: fishing, wildlife, BBQ grills, picnic areas, playgrounds, and over 9 miles of hiking trails.
The Lacamas Heritage Trail is 3.5 miles in total with plenty of places to stop. It follows a lake and has views of birds, native rock formations, and waterfalls. While it’s longer than the Doetsch Walking Path, it’s also relatively flat, easy to maneuver, and popular all year long.
Because of its size, there are plenty of options—shorter and longer—at Lacamas Regional Park. Combine the Heritage Trail with the Round Lake Loop Trail for an 8-mile round trip excursion. The Lake Loop is somewhat steeper but crosses a picturesque dam.
For those wanting a glimpse into Washington’s old-growth forests, consider the Fossil Trail Loop Hike. Less than 60 miles from Vancouver, this 12 mile loop gains 3,300 feet in elevation and is seldom crowded. Note, though, that it’s only open summer into fall.
The Loop crosses logged and unlogged forest where you’ll see “some of the world’s biggest noble firs, ably complemented by large hemlocks, silver firs, and Douglas-firs.” There are creeks, footbridges, lahars, lakes, and plenty of ripe summer huckleberries.
If hiking leaves you with aches, pains, and sprains, let Dr. Henderson help. She’ll address balance and mobility, accident and surgical recovery, or proactive care for patients of all ages. First-time clients start with a comprehensive initial consultation to discuss issues, medical, and health histories. She may then proceed to a full examination and X-rays.
Dr. Henderson believes in treating the whole body and the whole patient. As a former competitive gymnast, nature-lover, and sports nut, she understands that hobbies, exertion, and aging don’t have to slow you down.
The Washington Trails Association lists 169 hikes in Southwest Washington alone. Before you tackle one (or after they’ve taken their toll), call Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic at 360-254-0400. Then get out there, ASAP.