There’s something about moving my body in nature that just makes me feel alive. Feeling the sunshine on my skin, breathing in the fresh air, and moving my legs makes me feel whole. My mind relaxes, my body loosens up, and I start to reconnect with a version of me who trusts that everything is working out for her.
I absolutely love solo hikes for so many reasons. And while this post specifically focuses on hiking, the benefits I’m going to cover really apply to any solo outdoor adventure – whether it’s biking, paddling boarding, crossing country skiing, or even taking a road trip to a park.
Beyond the obvious reason that you don’t have to depend on others to go on a solo hike, I personally find that hiking alone is often even more magical than hiking with friends. Here are the top reasons I highly recommend it…
4 Reasons You Should Go on Solo Hikes
#1 – It Raises Your Vibe
99% of the time I head out on a solo hike, I feel better afterwards. It doesn’t matter if I was having a really bad day, or if I was already feeling pretty good – I always seem to move up the emotional scale to a better-feeling place.
Any problems I’m experiencing in my life – whether they stem from work, relationships, etc. – feel less daunting after an escape to the woods (or park, beach, or any other quiet place outside!).
And science has proven that being in nature relaxes both your mind and body. Japanese studies have demonstrated that taking a walk in a forest actually lowers your blood pressure and can significantly improve negative emotions (even depression!).
There are many theories on why spending time in nature is so beneficial. One of them is that natural environments emit a high vibrational energy. Even if you’re not consciously aware of it, when you go for a hike in the woods, take a dip in a lake, or dig your toes in the sand at the beach, you take on the energy of your surroundings. The result is you increase your own vibration – resulting in both physical and emotional benefits.
#2 – It Grounds You and Quiets the Mind
Getting out and appreciating nature really gets you in the present moment and reconnects you with Mother Earth. There’s just something about being outside that quiets my mind so much better than when I’m stuck inside.
Personally I tend to have a monkey mind. Even with my daily meditation practice, my mind likes to shoot off into all kinds of directions, and sometimes ruminates on challenges I’m having at the moment.
Heading out on a solo hike makes me feel more grounded and helps my brain stop spinning in circles. My mind doesn’t stop thinking, but the chatter slows down significantly. What’s magical about this is that I often receive answers and solutions to problems when my brain is in this more relaxed state.
#3 – It Reconnects You to Yourself at a Soul Level
I don’t know about you, but I just feel more like “me” when I go for a solo hike. Why is this?
My theory is this: biologically speaking, humans are animals. We lived the majority of our lives outside until the last century or two as we moved into the industrial age. It’s our innate nature to spend a lot of time outdoors, so we feel more like “ourselves” when we do.
When we enter this natural state of being, while simultaneously disconnecting from the stress of modern life, we connect to who we are at a soul level. Not only do we feel more like “ourselves”, we align with our highest potential and connect to the infinite wisdom of the universe.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been out on a solo adventure and a HUGE exciting new idea struck me out of nowhere. One minute I’m admiring the snow on pine trees, enjoying a trail on my bike, or paddling a quiet cove on the lake, and BAM! Inspiration strikes!
This is probably the #1 thing I love about hiking and adventuring on my own. Almost all of my big ideas have come when I’m just enjoying the quiet of being alone, vs. when I’m gabbing with a friend. When I’m alone, I can hear the whispers from my soul!
#4 – It Increases Your Confidence & Makes You Feel Unstoppable
Hiking alone definitely requires a certain level of independence. When you head out for an off-grid adventure, you are responsible for yourself. At first this might seem scary, but stepping out of your comfort zone and showing yourself what you’re capable of is a major confidence booster!
When you successfully finish a solo hike, whether it’s your first or your 1000th, whether it’s one hour or 3 days, it’s common to get an “I can do anything!” feeling. This unstoppable energy empowers you to try other new challenging things – like starting a business, going back to school, or planning a trip to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.
You start to trust yourself more and you develop a knowing that whatever life throws at you, you can handle it. The more you lean into this trust, the more risk you’re willing to take, and the more magic you experience!
3 Ways to Experience More Magic on Your Solo Hikes
After two decades of adventuring on my own, I’ve learned a few things about making my solo hikes more magical. Here are three ways you can use your time outdoors more deliberately so you can receive exciting inspiration, let go of things that aren’t serving you, and tap into your greatest potential.
#1 – Set an Intention
What do you want to gain from your time outdoors? How do you want to feel during and after your solo hike? What’s something you want to gain clarity on? What’s an issue you want to feel lighter about?
Taking a moment to set an intention for your adventure can help steer your mind in the direction you want to go. But the secret is to set the intention – then let it go. If your intention is to feel more positive about a problem you’re facing, set it and then forget about it. If you’re too attached to fixing the problem, you’ll keep focusing on the issue and it’ll be harder to feel better (and harder for solutions to surface).
#2 – Ask a Question
This is my favorite way to get more out of my time outside. I’ll ask a question that helps me find direction in my life, like “what should I focus on in my business next?”. Sometimes the answer comes 15 minutes later, sometimes it takes a couple of days, long after I’m done my hike. But I always receive guidance at some point.
It’s totally up to you who you direct your question to. If you’re a spiritual person, you can ask the Universe or God. Or if that doesn’t resonate with you, try asking your soul or your subconscious mind for help. It doesn’t even need to be a specific person, source, or entity. Just asking the question is enough to receive an answer.
Just like with setting an intention, releasing attachment to the answer is key. The more you think “where’s my answer?!” the more you will push it away. Focus on the beauty of your surroundings, enjoy your adventure, and set the intention to remain open to hearing the answer – and don’t overthink it!
#3 – Bring a Journal
Get in the habit of bringing a journal or notebook so you can jot down ideas as they come. Whether you receive a huge hit of inspiration all at once or slowly gain insights as you move along the trail, it’s super helpful to have a place to download your thoughts.
If the weather’s nice and I’ve got the time, sometimes I’ll even sit down and free write halfway through my hike. Last summer when I went on my first solo backpacking trip, I stopped to write down ideas, insights, and reflections every couple of hours, plus when I got to my camp for the night.
If the weather’s cold and I don’t want to take off my gloves or stop moving, I will simply voice text myself notes in my phone. Just make sure if you use voice-to-text, you read what you wrote and make sure it makes sense! Last time I had a big idea on the trail, there was a whole paragraph I didn’t understand when I got home (ha!).
Ready to Plan Some Solo Hikes?
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a newbie, hopefully you’ve been inspired to head out on your own soon.
If you feel pulled to start going on solo hikes or adventures, but feel a little intimidated by going alone – I hear you! Planning a solo hike can feel a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. If this is you, make sure to check out my recent post, Is it Safe to Hike Alone? 4 Tips to Hike Alone Safely.
If you have any questions – I’m here to help! Drop your questions in the comments or shoot me a message.
And if you have additional tips, please share! Whether you have practical advice to offer or more ideas on how to get the most out of your hike, please share below.
Happy Trails, my friends!