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There’s nothing like a hike in the great outdoors to reinvigorate the senses - plentiful in wonderful views, fresh air, and the smells and sounds of nature.

Hikes also provide a powerful cardio workout that you can tailor to your own personal fitness goals. Hiking trails range from short- to long-distance, from beginner to expert. Some are best for the serious hiker, others for the more creative and less adventurous.

Because Health’s mission is to empower individuals to achieve optimal health by connecting with, educating, and inspiring our audience toward health and longevity. Few activities are better than a good hike to connect with, learn from, and be inspired by nature.

The topography of New England provides ample opportunities for hikers of all levels of interest and fitness. The region is blessed with all kinds of beautiful hiking options. Massachusetts alone has 16 national parks and over 100 state parks.

These five examples are just a few of the bounties that New England brings for those seeking to boost both mind and body.

Sabbaday Falls, New Hampshire

Taking its name from an old term for “Sunday Sabbath”, the traditional day of rest, this is a trail for all experience levels. The hike ranges from 20 minutes to an hour and features plenty of tree-lined walkthroughs that lead to a lovely gorge waterfall. Stairs lead to sites where one can view the flume of water forcing its way through ancient granite walls into pools below.

Sabbaday Falls is located on the Sabbaday Brook Trail in White Mountain National Forest.

Ocean Path, Maine

Ocean Path hugs a part of the state’s 3,500-mile shoreline, at 2.2 miles and is a nearly 90-minute trek. It is perfect for experienced but not necessarily expert hikers. The trail runs from Sand Beach to Otter Point. Among its features are rocky outcrops, and the imposing Otter Cliffs.

A unique experience along the trail is an aquatic marvel called Thunder Hole. Rushing waves pound a natural opening in the rocks and create a booming splash that reaches high into the air.

Ocean Path is in Acadia National Park.

Cadillac Mountain, Maine

The Pine Tree State also features a more challenging hike in Acadia National Park. Experienced hikers will enjoy the strenuous, 1,530 feet climb to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Popular in the early morning, it is apparently the first spot to see the sunrise in the U.S.

There are many trails to the summit, leading from all four points on the compass. Each trail features its own spectacular vistas. The Cadillac North Ridge trailhead boasts lovely views of Eagle Lake to the west, and the summit loop itself provides panoramic views of Frenchman Bay.

The Long Trail, Green Mountains, Vermont

The Long Trail in the Green Mountains is the oldest continuous footpath in the U.S.A. A 272-mile stretch located in Stowe, with 166 miles of side trails and 70 backcountry campsites. It is ideal for thru-hikers, day-hikers, and campers.  

It is called the “footpath in the wilderness”. The Long Trail has some of the state’s best features, including glistening ponds, hardwood forests, and fast streams. Some parts of the trail are deceptively easy, whereas plenty of steep, muddy inclines provide ample challenges.

Bash Bish Falls, Massachusetts

Bash Bish features the state’s most dramatic and probably most-visited waterfall, with an astonishing 80-foot drop. Located in the far southwest corner of Massachusetts, it is gorgeous in the early winter. It is a moderate hike at barely two miles and an hour roundtrip.

And the view doesn’t disappoint. Water feeding the falls runs through gorges before being sliced in half by a gigantic boulder perched right above a pool and drops as a picture-perfect waterfall. The site is very popular among artists, particularly landscape painters who set up their easels atop the highest ground.

This is just a sampling of the majestic and energizing hikes around the New England region. Each is unique, but they all share the same health benefits.

It is a whole-body workout that builds stronger muscles and bones, improves balance and heart health, and decreases the risk of certain respiratory problems. It exposes the body to healthy sunlight, which is essential for the natural production of Vitamin D – critical for bone health. Strength, cardio, and endurance alone increases physical fitness, and when combined with exposure to the outdoors it has been proven to improve overall mood and mental health.

New Englanders (and visitors) are fortunate to have examples of natural splendor in their own backyards. Mind and body benefit from the simple act of hiking, which our ancestors did long before offices and board meetings. Add this exercise into your fitness regimen and your whole being will thank you.

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