John Muir, noted naturalist and preservationist, once said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” Muir loved nature, and his passion and advocacy are largely responsible for the founding and preservation of our national parks. In the quote above, Muir acknowledges that with all the paths we take in life, it is important to make time for those that take us outdoors; to reconnect with the natural world. Even 107 years later, Muir’s exhortation still holds true, and there’s modern research to back it up.

According to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature is correlated with a number of positive benefits. Among these are improved cognition, mood, attention, empathy, and lowered rates of stress. There’s an app that can help you take advantage of these benefits for yourself. It’s called All Trails.

All Trails is an app that is used for outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and mountain biking. It gives users access to a database of 300,000 trails and provides trail information, with images and reviews, from other users. With it, you can search for trails near your location, filtering based on difficulty, length, or even ADA accessibility. Once you find a trail, you can download the trail map for offline use, and save your favorite trails to your profile.

It is now September, the first month of fall. Nearly past the heat of summer, and not yet stung by the cold of winter, this is a wonderful time of year to enjoy a walk outdoors. Contact the Digital Services team to help you get started with the app. I suggest giving All Trails a chance, and see what paths you might find; perhaps some of them will be dirt.