A simple definition of hiking would be to take a walk and then to trust your senses, but being respectful with the environment. Halfway between sport, walk and journey, hiking is such a popular outdoor activity that has gained more followers, in the last fifty years of the end of the millennium, after combining the direct contact with nature and the practice of mountaineering – it can also include an exercise as intense as desired by the one who practices it. Initially, hiking demands neither an excessive training nor an annoying or long journey to the place where to practice it: a tour around mounts and nearby forests, or to spend a weekend by walking in natural environments and discovering nature are quite enough for the novices.
As you acquire technical knowledge, experience and stamina then you can increase the length and difficulty of the routes. Federations of mountain and environmental organizations coincide in pointing out that it has become a more popular practice, but they also complain about the ill-minded ways of practicing it. Those who sporadically visit the hiking areas don’t always take into account that they may accidentally degrade the environment and forget one of the basic principles of hiking: the respect to the environment.
Hiking seems to have its origins in France, at the beginning of the last century, reaching its climax in the 40s, around 1947. Its founder, the French Henry Viaux, defends the theory in which the success of this type of ways is owing to the fact that they were in a natural atmosphere given the increasing interest in nature as recreational place. It emerged, then, in the middle of the French bourgeoisie, as a leisure activity for the high society. Time went by, until it stopped being a privilege in the high society and it was gradually reaching the other classes. At present, the trail network reaches 150.000 km in that country.
In our country, this network includes 32.000 km, and other 6.000 km will be approximately added soon. At present, the trail network covers 30.000 kilometers of marked and recommended ways. Long-distance Trails (GR in Spanish), Short-distance Route (PR in Spanish), Local Footpath (SL in Spanish) and Urban Trail (SU in Spanish) can be found all over Spain. The Green Routes (RV) can also join them, given the big development reached in the last years. All of them really mean an attractive invitation to travel and to discover the variety and beauty of the Spanish geography.