Hiking trails have historical roots as places of transportation for people, goods, livestock, and wildlife with long-distance passages connecting villages and towns. Walking for leisure took place along garden paths or local forested trails. Recreational hiking grew dramatically in North America in the 20th century as leisure time increased post-war. A surge of outdoor recreationists coincided with the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s. People felt an attachment to the outdoors and hiking became a means to explore nature, increase fitness, and express individuality.
Human health is intimately connected to the health of the planet. We need fresh water, clean oceans, and natural spaces that contain a rich array of animals, insects and plants. Promoting education about and recreation in our natural spaces has been a part of the Sierra Club philosophy since it was founded in 1892.