There is little data on hiking patterns in national parks to support hiking behavior as a vehicle to meet the joint YMCA, CDC, and National Park Service initiatives to encourage physical activity through public land use.
The YMCA of the Rockies hiking program provided data from Hike Report forms completed after 343 supervised hikes for one summer season in Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO) to assess visitor hiking patterns.
Of the total hikes, 64.4% were categorized as easy, 27.1% moderate, and 8.5% difficult. There were 1937 individual hikers which represented 13.3% of the estimated potential hiker sample. The majority of hikers (69%) only took easy hikes with 72.7% participating in only one hike and 27.3% doing two or more hikes. Energy cost estimates for hike categories indicated mean MET levels between 4.0 to 5.7.
Hiking patterns at ROMO may be reflective of general population inactivity suggesting the need to design strategies to promote visitor hiking.