The side view of rocks or a mountain, the Red River Gorge.
SPORTS & RECREATION

Why Don’t You Just Go Away, Take A Hike?

I am from Southern Ohio, and I have experience hiking there and in many other parts of the country. I have hiked in places like Red River Gorge in Kentucky all the way up to Denali National Park in Alaska.

I brought my love for hiking to the South with me, and I want to share what I have learned about the many great places Southern hiking has to offer.

Mississippi and most of the South are relatively flat states. They don’t compare to the snowy mountains of Alaska, but it harnesses its own beauty.

From the flat delta of Mississippi, to the rocky cliff edges of places like Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas, there are so many things to appreciate on hikes.

There are many trails that show beautiful wilderness, wildlife, and vast marshes or swamps, but the South also offers some of the best rock-climbing cliff trails in the United States.

The most astonishing place I have hiked in the South is Red River Gorge, also known as Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. From the beautiful views of Courthouse Rock to the tunnels and rock formations, this place is only a few hours from most of the South and is a great way to get out and experience something so natural and divine in our own backyard.

Trees on the hiking trail behind Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi.

No matter where you are in the country hiking, you should always prepare for the worst. You never know if you will encounter a deadly animal or face treacherous weather.

A great place to learn about preparing for hikes is talking to REI, Recreational Equipment Inc., representatives at their stores, and by exploring their website. The website offers great advice for any level of hiker.

REI experts have provided the perfect list of what to bring on a day hike, a good start for beginners. The list should be a hiker’s bible, and it is a great place to learn how to properly prepare to hike.

The list should include a hiking backpack, weather-appropriate clothing (think moisture-wicking and layers), hiking boots or shoes, plenty of food and water, navigation tools such as a map and compass, first aid kit, knife or multi-tool, and the rest of the Ten Essentials appropriate for your hike. Preparation is key, and these essentials will keep you safe and enhance the comfort and enjoyment of your hike.

When preparing, the South is no different than other parts of the country. The key preparation step highlighted earlier by REI experts is having good hiking boots. Hiking in the South can be rocky, and having broken-in boots is important.

In places like Red River Gorge, the rocky regions of Tennessee forests, and middle Alabama, you will be climbing over rocks and many other natural obstacles. Your hiking boots should have a good grip and be comfortable or your feet will hurt and blisters could develop, making the hike much less enjoyable and putting you at a greater risk of harm or injury.

The United States is a beautiful place. Hiking is a great way to let go of stress. No matter where you are, you can find somewhere beautiful to experience.

I believe everyone should take a day, prepare properly, and spend time hiking across the beautiful states, from the bayous of Louisiana to the rocky edges of Kentucky.

The best way to enjoy this is to read about what REI experts have to say, as they are some of the best in the world. Their advice prepared me for hiking up a mountain in Denali National Park, and even strolling through the woods behind Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi. I encourage everyone to get out there and see the beauty and diversity the South has to offer.

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