Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Kamaji Ogino
Looking For A Black Hiking Community To Get You Moving This Spring?
Many travelers and local explorers are looking for fun, adventurous experiences that are outside of the box. If outside adventure has been calling your name, a Black hiking community might be the thrill you’re seeking.
Believe it or not, Black hiking communities are a lot more popular than you might expect. You may even find a few in your neighborhood or a destination you’re visiting.
Here are some of the best Black hiking communities to get you up, out, and moving this Spring.
Black People Who Hike – St. Louis, MO
Proudly reminding folks that #WeHikeToo, Black People Who Hike (BPHW) is a St. Louis-based organization. Founded by Debbie Njai in 2019, BPWH has hiked more than 75 trails in the Missouri area and is expanding fast. In 2022, the outdoors group received a $120,000 ParkVenture grant to pay for more people of color to experience over 423 American parks that historically discriminated against Black people.
“I think, now not only the National Park Service, but organizations like Black People Who Hike and some of these other new organizations, understand the importance of people of color getting outdoors,” Naji told St. Louis Public Radio.
BPWH organizes hiking and outdoor meetups throughout the Midwest. The new grant also is opening doors for them to take hikers across state lines to national parks across the country.
“I think just by exposing Black people and re-engaging Black people to hiking in St. Louis is kind of a big deal … but then to really go to these national parks outside of Missouri is taking hiking to another level,” Naji shared.
Black Girls Trekkin’ – Los Angeles, CA
Black Girls Trekken’ is holding it down for the hiking ladies on the West Coast. After co-founders Michelle Race and Tiffany Tharpe found peace and healing through hiking in nature, the pair founded the organization to help other women find their healing too.
Now BGT has over 30,000 followers on social media and is working to change the narrative surrounding people of color and the outdoors. The organization is open to all and welcomes anyone who’s ever felt ostracized from experiencing the outdoors to join them on their journey.
Founded on representation, diversity and inclusion, and education and conservation, BGT is transforming what hiking looks like for Black women.
Nashville Black Wellness Collective – Nashville, TN
Created to cultivate healing and community, the Nashville Black Wellness Collective is curating a space in the Midwest for healing through nature. The group encourages getting active outside by meeting up twice a month to enjoy the great outdoors.
Like other hiking groups, the wellness collective incorporates mindfulness and meditation into their adventures. Their members come from all walks of life and they even schedule hikes during the winter for those who can bear the cold.
This group does have membership fees so keep that in mind when finding a Black hiking group that works for you.
HIKEOLUTION – West Orange, NJ
If you’re on the East Coast looking to explore the path less traveled, HIKEOLUTION is exactly what you need. Keyana Jones founded the organization to create a social space for Black people to hike and explore. The group is based in New Jersey and conducts hikes mainly in South Mountain Reservation in West Orange.
“Our vision is to bring people together, connect them with nature, and promote healthy lifestyles by inspiring individuals to get outdoors, rebuking the myth that ‘Black People Don’t Hike,’” Jones said to ShoutoutLA.
Each week HIKEOLUTION has hikes for people of all ages covering more than 2,000 miles of trails. The group finds solace and peace in the woods; stopping to do breathing exercises and meditations during their hikes. In addition to hiking, you can also catch group members paddle-boating, ice skating, or even taking walks through scenic neighborhoods.
Black Men Hike – Los Angeles, CA
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without showing some love to Black men. Los Angeles has the guys covered with Black Men Hike. The organization was founded by Jelani Nattey, an avid gym goer whose wife encouraged him to try hiking to relieve stress.
“As I started to hike with her, I started to get a passion about it, and I realized that I started to feel better,” Nattey told Los Angeles Standard Newspaper. “It wasn’t just like physically better, but I felt like I was becoming recharged. And I felt less stressed. In 2019, I was in a place where I felt overwhelmed and stressed. I used hiking as an outlet.”
Nattey tapped in with his friend and professional circle in LA to build members. Now the group meets up on the first Saturday of every month to hike around the city. They even linked up with Black Girls Trekken’ for the ultimate Black collective hike. Black Men Hike has begun to expand to the youth with its summer hiking initiative for LA children and teens.
“We want to show them that they have access to nature,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity to get out there and see what the beauty is. This is an opportunity to give some youth who have not been out to nature a first glance of what’s to offer. And it gives them an opportunity to unplug from social media, and focus on their mental and spiritual wellness.”