There are only two acceptable ways to choose hiking destinations: thorough research or the daring dart-on-a map method. (If you have non-negotiable conditions that need to be met, the former is suggested.) Thankfully the research has already been vetted by explorers, and on top of the soul-hugging sights, it’s been declared hiking is the quiet champion of better health and exercise. Here’s why.

1. You’ll have an amazing story to tell.
There’s no better time than now to start your journey to improved health. Is your goal to burn calories? Gently pace through the terrains of the Iron Mountain where you’ll get the perfect view of Park City, Utah. Do you want to lower blood pressure or cholesterol levels? Stress is no friend to the unique meadows of Lake of the Ozarks State Parks in Osage Beach, Missouri.

2. Hiking nurtures relationships one step at a time.
There’s plenty to talk about on the walk—the importance of caring for our environment, the vast destination ahead, or creative strategies as a team to get across the rocky river at Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

3. Disconnect to reconnect with yourself.
Unplugging from the digital world and being in a natural environment takes away mental fatigue and can boost your overall mood. There are no street signs or responsibilities demanding your attention. Your mind is actively processing decisions like adjusting your balance for the next step or what uneven surfaces to maneuver around with care.

Nature is proudly displaying miles of green and blue waiting for you to discover. The only filter you need is for your water bottle.