Studies have shown that outdoor activities like hiking can benefit our mental health in a variety of ways. In this article I consider some of the ways hiking has been good for me.
Hiking and Mental Health
A recent review of numerous scientific studies shows that physical exercise in the natural environment can improve our mental health in a variety of ways. Activities such as hiking, snow sports, surfing and outdoor climbing can reduce negative mood states, increase positive psychological experiences, improve self esteem, and contribute to psychologically healthy ageing.
As a keen hiker myself I can relate to many of the positive experiences people report, such as (quoting from that review): “pleasure and enjoyment, meditation, independence, basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness, experiences of flow, comfort and intense emotions, enhanced feeling of body, discovering the pleasure of achievement, vital strength and a higher will to live…, and… an intense nature experience” (page 7).
Hiking has become a mild obsession for me nowadays, and after reading this study I had a think about why I enjoy it so much. Below are the results of my musings…
A pleasant circuit walk along a stretch of Thredbo River at Bullocks Flat. We saw quite a bit of wildlife in the area despite other walkers and cyclists.
The Bullocks Track is an easygoing walk along the banks of the Thredbo River. There are views up 800m to the Ramshead Range, and over picturesque sections of the Thredbo River. We encountered quite a bit of wildlife along the way, despite it being a fairly busy area with a major camp site at Thredbo Diggings. Not a spectacular walk but good one with children or if you need a rest from longer walks up in the alpine areas. Continue reading “Bullocks Flat Circuit, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”
Visit the big boulders called Porcupine Rocks on this popular walk starting on the edge of Perisher Village. You can extend the walk to bag two nearby peaks, Mt Duncan (1926m) & Mt Wheatley (1877m).
The Porcupine Rocks Track is a popular walk to big boulders high up in the Ramshead Range near Perisher Village. There are views over the Thredbo Valley, about 700 to 800m below. If that’s not enough for you then you can walk off-track to nearby Mt Duncan (1926m), and along an impact track and poled route to Mt Wheatley (1877m). All walking is through attractive alpine meadows, heath and snow gums.
An excellent short walk from Charlotte Pass to Mt Stilwell (2040m) for great views of the Main Range and over an alpine plateau strewn with countless boulders.
The Mt Stilwell Walk was quite a find for us, as we’d walked other routes from Charlotte Pass before without giving it much attention. It turned out to be a great short walk with views of the Main Range, and over the boulder strewn alpine plateau to the south of the summit. There were numerous wildflowers in summer which added to the appeal. You also get to bag a 2040m peak while you’re at it: bonus 🙂 Continue reading “Mt Stilwell Walk, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”
The Waterfall Walking Track is a pleasant enough walk through forest to a waterfall and a collection of big boulders in Kosciuszko National Park.
The Waterfall Walking Track is is a pleasant enough walk through a variety of forest types at about 1200m of elevation in Kosciuszko National Park near Jindabynbe. As the name suggests there is a waterfall along the way, but I think the highlight is a collection of giant boulders. Not one of the glitzy alpine walks further up Kosciuszko Road but worthwhile for a change of scene. Continue reading “Waterfall Walking Track, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”
Some of Australia’s best scenery on this long and varied walk to Mount Sentinel in Kosciuszko National Park, where there are fabulous views of the dramatic Western Ranges.
Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park is a home to the nation’s highest ground, and its landscapes are uniquely attractive, if not always particularly dramatic. Well, that impression changed after climbing the isolated peak of Mount Sentinel (1900m), which provides excellent views of the so called Western Ranges. Mostly out of reach for the casual day hiker, I hadn’t seen these rugged and sometimes near vertical drop offs before. But the Sentinel happens to stick out in the middle of it all, and hence provides some of the best views on all of the mainland. Continue reading “Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”
With mountains galore, a picturesque coastline, and unique plants and animals, Tasmania offers some of Australia’s best hiking options.
The mountainous island state of Tasmania offers probably Australia’s best hiking. It’s the only place in the country where you can find a high concentration of pointy rugged mountains for a start. There are many plants and animals unique to Tasmania, and this wildlife tends to be more visible than in the south-eastern states of the mainland. The landscape is also unique, with a variety of vegetation from rainforest to alpine heath, many attractive waterfalls, and a lot of rock on offer, including sometimes extensive boulder fields (I’m a particular fan of boulder hopping).
A short walk from Patonga on the NSW Central Coast up to view points over the scenic Hawkesbury River just north of Sydney.
I’d never been to Patonga before, a sleepy village at the southern border of the Central Coast, just over the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney. It’s a very pretty and chilled out area, with one restaurant/bar on the waterfront. There’s also a bushwalking track that ascends about 160m over 2 to 3 kilometres from the beach to a trig point. The forest is nice, and there’s a couple of spots along the way with good views, including an official lookout, Warrah Lookout.
Experience some of New Zealand’s best scenery on these five classic day-hikes near Glenorchy, just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown.
The sleepy village of Glenorchy sits in a dramatic landscape at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. It’s a spectacular 45 minute drive from Queenstown along the shore of the lake, and worth making the trip for the drive alone. The scenery on offer is amongst the best in New Zealand, and there are some really world-class hikes in the area, including the famous multi-day Routeburn Track.
Following are five of my favourite day-hikes around Glenorchy. There are majestic mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, tumbling streams, and atmospheric beech forest. And you might be joined by some of New Zealand’s friendly bird life along the way.
My pick of the best full day-hikes around Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, with a few shorter options thrown in.
Queenstown is truly a hiker’s paradise. There’s dramatic scenery in all directions, and the mountains are filled with well maintained hiking trails. And as a major adventure-tourism destination the area is well serviced and cosmopolitan.
Plenty of tourists visit the area, and yet it seems the majority of people choose not to go hiking. In fact, I’ve sometimes not seen a single other person on the best hikes in the area. So if you are willing to put in the effort, you can have New Zealand’s magical scenery mostly to yourself.