Aging Outside: How Women Over 50 Are Reclaiming the Outdoors Through Hiking

Over 50 Outside Hiking Community

The Over 50 Outside 2023 retreat in Montana. Photo credit: Kenny Gamblin

Are you ever too old to get outside?

Absolutely not! Aging is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Instead, aging is an invitation to embrace the years ahead with intention. It is an opportunity to set goals for your next chapter of life and seek to find what fills your cup and fuels your adventurous spirit.

In our humble opinion, hiking is the perfect way to do just that!

After all, spending time in nature has all kinds of healing benefits for people of all ages.

  • Physical activity helps keep joints healthy and mobile.
  • Being outside helps you unplug and be in the present moment.
  • Spending time outdoors can help improve cognitive function.
  • Taking a walk in nature can lessen stress and anxiety.

And so much more.

Even though we know getting outside is great for all ages, we don’t often see the 50+ community represented in outdoor content – especially women. That’s why Over 50 Outside was created.

What is Over 50 Outside?

52 Hike Challenge - Over 50 Outside Hiking CommunityThe Over 50 Outside 2023 group hiking at our annual retreat. Photo credit: Kenny Gamblin

Over 50 Outside is a community built for ​women over 50 who are passionate about the outdoors.​​ This initiative serves as a way to motivate, empower, and ignite their spirit so they build confidence and well-being by getting out on the trails weekly with the 52 Hike Challenge.​​

Over 50 Outside launched in 2022 with the help of our partners Oboz Footwear, Osprey Packs and Outdoor Research. Now the program is in its second year of supporting 150 women over the age of 50 hit the trails with confidence and community.

This year’s cohort began their 52 Hike Challenge 2023 with the New Year, and many of them have already finished the hiking challenge!

In fact, our 52 Hike Challenge founder Karla Amador recently had the opportunity to connect with many of the women at our annual retreat in Montana.

During this wilderness retreat, we hiked, meditated, journaled and admired the beautiful scenery before us. On the trails, under the stars and around the campfire, we inspired one another and built lasting bonds.

We even had the privilege of witnessing some of the women finish their 52 Hike Challenge 2023 while we hiked together!

In this update, you will hear directly from women who undertook 52 hikes in 2023. From challenges and triumphs to healing and epiphanies and making lots of new friends along the way, their stories are nothing short of motivational.

Here are our top takeaways from what they had to share:

  • New connections and friendships were made.
  • They stepped outside of their comfort zones.
  • Nature brought them closer to their true selves.
  • Hiking has incredible healing power for the body and mind.

Keep reading to be inspired and hear how this hiking challenge has touched so many lives.

A Hiking Community Offers Meaningful Connections

Hiking Women - 52 Hike ChallengeEnjoying the trails together in Montana. Photo credit: Kenny Gamblin

As a member of Over 50 Outside, women continually come together as a supportive hiking community. Through virtual events, a dedicated Facebook group and even an in-person annual retreat, they have the ability to share their journeys with one another.

According to those taking the 2023 challenge, meeting like-minded hikers was a huge perk of the program! Check it out:

“How exciting it is to find women who support, inspire and cheer you on your hiking journey at this age!” – Valerie G Therese

It has given me an opportunity to make new friends, as well as strengthen old friendships.” – Dana Jensen

Whether the women chose to hike solo or meet up in groups, the general consensus is that it’s wonderful to have a community of people rooting for you on and off the trails.

The Hiking Challenge Stoked Confidence to Try New Things

Hiking Out Of Comfort ZonesValerie G Therese stepping outside her comfort zone during the 52 Hike Challenge 2023

Confidence building is a main objective of the Over 50 Outside mission, and we were so happy to hear that many women were empowered to embrace the unknown. 

For example, one Over 50 Outside hiker, Valerie G Therese, experienced new camping adventures and checked off some bucket list hikes she never imagined she’d attempt.

“So happy to report that I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone by hiking new, more challenging trails with folks I don’t know and/or inspire me. [...] Now I realize I can spend the night in nature without fear.” – Valerie G Therese

With each hike, the women stepped out of their comfort zones and onto new trails. Some even felt more connected to nature and themselves.

Hiking Makes Mindfulness Come Naturally

Mindful Moments While Hiking

A mindful moment captured by Cheryl Lunzaga during the 52 Hike Challenge

For many, hiking went far beyond the physical. This hiking challenge presented opportunities for mindful moments on the trail. 

“Hiking is more than just a physical activity to me; it's a divine experience that allows me to connect with nature, challenge myself, and find solace in the great outdoors.” – Cheryl Lunzaga

The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of hiking are abundant. In fact, hiking can be one of the best natural healers.

“Take time to be in awe, meditate, reflect and be filled with gratitude.” – Valerie G Therese

Hiking Facilitates Healing

Hiking Heals

Over 50 Outside hiker Stephanie Portner continuing to hike on after experiencing a debilitating seizure earlier in the year. Photo credit: Candace Winkle

From physical injuries and illnesses to emotional heartache, the trails provided a place to feel, process, decompress and recover.

One Over 50 Outside hiker, Stephanie Porter, started the 52 Hike Challenge and later experienced a seizure that resulted in her being unresponsive in the ICU. Fortunately, Stephanie began regaining physical mobility and has since finished 52 hikes! Her friend and hiking partner Candace Winkle wrote, “She still cannot read or write but she sure can hike!”

To this day, hiking serves as a powerful reminder of Stephanie’s strength and perseverance. 

And she’s not alone. Valerie expressed that hiking also helped her heal from many of life's unexpected challenges:

Hiking has the healing power to help overcome bumps in life, big and little. And I’ve had some big bumps the past few years ~ going deaf, divorce after 23 years, bad car accident, rotator cuff surgery…life stuff. So grateful for every minute I’ve spent outdoors this year.” – Valerie G Therese

Seek the Trails: Take 52 Hikes with the Over 50 Outside Hiking Community

52 Hike Challenge FinisherOver 50 Outside x 52 Hike Challenge 2023 Finisher Dana Jensen

“Along the way, laughter rang out and tears were shed. I found comfort, healing and sanctuary in each mile. Grateful.” – Dana Jensen

As you can see, hiking has the power to impact every aspect of your life. When you hike regularly with a supportive community, that healing power is amplified.

“While the 50 program has changed my life, the connections/friendships are what I value the most. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.” – Valerie G Therese

Are you interested in experiencing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of taking 52 hikes?

Join Over 50 Outside 2024

Hike On With 52 Hike ChallengeTake 52 hikes as part of Over 50 Outside in 2024. Photo credit: Kenny Gamblin

We are excited to share that the Over 50 Outside program will be offered again in 2024! Stay tuned for new and exciting updates to the 2024 program.

Click here to learn more and check back for updates.

Thank you to all the women who contributed to this blog and to our partners Oboz Footwear, Osprey Packs and Outdoor Research for making the Over 50 Outside program possible.

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