I never voluntarily stepped foot near a tree as a child. There were a lot of trees near my house and once in awhile we walked through them, so I guess there really wasn’t any need to go to a park. My neighborhood was decidedly suburban but wooded enough that if we went to a park it was a playground park, and even that was relatively infrequent.
As a city dwelling adult with FOMO, I started exploring activities and turns out, lo and behold, parks are amazing! I’ve even become a low-grade hiker, if you count walking medium distances on mostly flat, wooded terrain to be hiking. The history of our national parks is well worth a gander, but the parks within our cities are just as amazing, perhaps even more so because of the ability to be within a city of hundreds of thousands and not see (or often even hear) a soul.
My first entree to parks will always have a special place in my heart: Rock Creek Park in Washington DC. I started out just taking my dog for some walks and discovered the multitudes of options. Some sections are very secluded and others are quite well maintained with blazes and clear trails offering everything from a picnic to a 5-mile hike along rapids.
The park is one of the main things I miss about DC so I returned there on a recent trip to the area in Upper NW around the Nature Center (which is worth a stop). This area contains the only rapids in the park as well as a section of stone left over from the renovations of the US Capitol 50 years ago (what!?). My 45-minute hike included these things as well as some short but steep inclines and lots of solitude.
10 years ago if someone told me going outside anywhere but a beach would help my mood and outlook, I would have punched them. (In my head. In reality I’d smile and silently judge.) And now I’m the one trying to convince people and being silently judged, but it’s worth it.