12 Ways to Create Moments of Joy For Your Happiest Hike Ever

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You probably know that hiking can make you happier, but try out these 12 tips for creating moments of joy on your next hike to experience even higher peaks of elation.

1. Take in all the Awe-inspiring Nature

man enjoying the view of the mountains

Take breaks regularly and really take it all in – the lakes, the mountain peaks, the forests with all your senses. Listen for the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds, and smell the scent of different wildflowers. Taste the berries that pop with freshness in your mouth – only if you know that they’re safe to eat.

Being surrounded by beauty and taking time for moments of awareness can be a great source of joy and inspiration. Plus, it helps you create more moments of joy on your hike, not just at the summit.

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2. Focus on the Abundance of Nature

Larch trees can be seen when hiking up to Jumbo Pass in Kootenay
Larch Trees, as seen from Jumbo Pass

Being in nature is an amazing how opportunity to focus on abundance, especially if you feel you don’t have enough of something in your daily life, whether it be enough time, enough money, or whatever else. Notice how abundant nature is. Could you count all the trees if you tried? How about all the leaves?

Being around abundance makes us realize that it’s all around us, but we often are so focused on what we’re lacking that we don’t notice abundance. Being on a hike is a great place to practice this.

Then, take it home with you. I used to live in an apartment in Munich that overlooked a busy street, including a car dealership. Rather than focusing on how ugly it was, I focused on the abundance of millions of dollars of cars in that one building. In a single moment, this would almost make me feel better.

The shift in perspective of focusing on abundance, not the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy a car, created more moments of joy in my life. Plus, it’s excellent for your mental health. 

3. Capture The Moments of Joy So you Can Relive Them

laurel hiking at dolomites italy
Laurel hiking in Italy’s Dolomites and capturing a moment of joy on the hike.

Bring a camera and capture the beauty of nature on your camera, from mountain peaks to a macro of a wildflower or the joy on your face when you reached the summit.

Then, print the photos and put them in a place where you’ll see them often and be reminded of the happy moment.

4. Create Moment of Joy with a Friend

group of friends walking in a hiking trail

Hiking with a friend, whether that’s a human or animal friend (many hikers love hiking with their dog), is a great time to create or strengthen bonds with friends.

It can make hiking more enjoyable as you share the joy of discovering the mountain together, taking in all the beauty and the sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit.

5. Pack a Picnic

hikers eating breakfast together

Bring a light picnic to enjoy at a scenic spot along the trail. A delicious hiking snack or meal can be a great source of joy and a great way to reward your effort. 

6. Meditate on the Mountain

woman meditating on the mountain

Meditating is good for your mental health, and we all need time to put our brains into pause mode. Take a few minutes to sit quietly and meditate on the mountain. This can help you feel calm and peaceful and create a moment of joy and a sense of well-being.

I get almost all my best ideas while hiking, and even if I’m hiking with friends, I find ways to take a few moments to myself.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “mediation is good medicine.”

7. Have Fun Learning How to Identify Plants and Animals

elk are a common wildlife species in Banff
Elk are the most popular ungulate (hooved animal) in Banff

Bring a guidebook or one of these hiking apps to help you identify the plants, animals and birds you see along the way. Learning about the natural world can create moments of joy and helps you feel more connected to the natural world. 

8. Practice Gratitude

mountain wildflowers in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland

Take a moment to appreciate the opportunity to be out in nature, breathing fresh air, taking in the beauty around you, and taking time for yourself to go on a hike. Gratitude creates joyful moments and makes you realize how much there is to be grateful for – no matter what your circumstances are. Here’s how to practice having an attitude of gratitude while hiking. 

9. Challenge Yourself On Your Hike

how to choose right backpack for you on a multi-day hike like the Tour du Mont Blanc or Dolomites

Challenge yourself to go a little further if you’re feeling good. Already reached the first lake and are feeling fresh? Hike to the second lake. Or if you’ve reached a peak and see there’s a ridge connecting another mountain, go for it and make it a two-peak day!   

Or sign up for a multi-day hiking tour to challenge yourself for days at a time. Warning: it’s addictive. After dong the Tour du Mont Blanc, I now do at least one long-distance hike each year to challenge myself. On the books for this year? Kilimanjaro!

Accomplishing a challenge is good for your self-esteem and creates a sense of pride and joy.

10. Embrace the  Unexpected

hiker climbing up a rocky mountain
Surround yourself with people who push you when you’re doing a steep climb or difficult challenge

When you’re hiking, things might not always go to plan, and that’s OK. Allow yourself to be open to surprises, unexpected sights or unplanned detours, or experiences – like getting lost. Try not to judge whatever happens as good or bad; just accept it for what it is.

The trail you wanted to hike is closed due to bear activity? OK, this is a good opportunity to try a different one. You got lost? Well, this is a good opportunity to practice working as a team or to test your compass navigation skills. 

11. Celebrate Your Accomplishment 

woman enjoying a hike in Yosemite

If you’re hiking to a summit, then do a happy dance on top of the mountain. If you’re hiking to a lake, then reward yourself with a swim to cool off (if it’s allowed).

Or find some other way to celebrate your hard work at the end of your hike in a way that’s meaningful to you. There is so much joy that comes from accomplishing a physical challenge, so take a few moments to relish in that joy.

12. Journal About Your Hike

Perfect for the Reflective Hiker
Perfect for All Adventurers
Perfect for the Hiker Who LIkes to Document Everything 
Perfect for the Hiker Who LIkes to Document Everything 

By reflecting on your hike and all the happiness you experienced, you get to relive those moments of joy.

Check out the hiking journals that I created that let you log the details of your hike but also have space to record your reflections and moments of joy that you experienced along the hike. 

These are 12 ways that I create moments of joy while hiking, but there are tons more. Tell me your tips in the comments below. 

Also, be sure to check out these related articles:

creating a happiest hike ever

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