There are about 3,000 reasons to get out this weekend and hike. You ate them all during your Thanksgiving feast. Remember the turkey, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls with butter and pumpkin pie with whipped cream?
The average Thanksgiving meal is about 3,000 calories with 229 grams of fat, according to the American Council on Exercise. If you went back for seconds, then you’re looking at about 4,500 calories.
You don’t have to wallow in Thanksgiving remorse.
"One day, no matter how bad you think it is, will not sabotage your workout program unless you allow it to," says Cedric Bryant, the council’s chief exercise physiologist. After the meal, he says, "get back to your exercise habits."
Hiking is a good start and a great family tradition. The state has hundreds of scenic trails, and you’ll burn about 300 calories per hour hiking. The harder the hike, the more you burn. Just remember to stay within your physical comfort zone.
• Bring plenty of water and food.
• Call ahead and check with park officials for updates and information
• Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
• Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes.
Group hiking opportunities
• Bird Burn, 3 p.m. today at North Mountain Visitor Center, 12950 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. Choose between a 2 1 /2-mile loop hike around Shaw Butte or a five-mile hike to the summit. Refreshments and entertainment afterward. Registration required. $3 adults, $1 children ages 4 to 12. (602) 495-0222.
• Roving Ranger, 1 to 3 p.m. today at Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa. Meet up with ranger Amy Roberts along the Merkle and Vista trails. Both trails are easy strolls and less than a mile. $5 per car. (480) 984-0032 or www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery.
West Fork of Oak Creek
A This hike, by far one of the easiest and most beautiful in the state, will take you along a stream and into a narrow canyon. The leaves have changed color, and you’ll see vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. This is definitely a hike for those feeling autumn nostalgia.
Calories burned: 400
Length: Three miles Cost: $7
Getting there: Take Interstate 17 north to state Route 179 north. Follow 179 north to state Route 89A. The trailhead is 9 1 /2 miles north of Sedona between mileposts 384 and 385. Parking and restrooms are available.
Information: Red Rock Ranger District, (928) 282-4119 or
Wind Cave, Usery Mountain Regional Park B A big payoff for little effort. In the beginning, the trail is flat and meanders through desert fauna to the base of the mountain. A series of long switchbacks will gradually take you up to the Wind Cave where you’ll see a spectacular view of the Valley and Usery Mountain. The trail is fairly easy expect to share it with dogs and kids.
Ranger Amy Roberts will be on the trail 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays to answer questions and show tarantulas and other desert dwellers to the kids.
Calories burned: 600
Length: Three miles
Cost: $5 per car
Getting there: Take U.S. 60 to Ellsworth Road and go north. Ellsworth Road becomes Usery Pass Road. Go through the gate and turn left onto Wind Cave Drive. Parking and restrooms are available.
Information: (480) 984-0032 or www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery
Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout, South Mountain Park C
You will sweat on this hike. The warm-up is pretty easy. The Holbert Trail is flat for the first half mile and takes you through a series of rocks and boulders. Keep an eye out for petroglyphs. Follow the trail through the coral and bear right. This is when the hike gets strenuous. The trail gradually rises through a series of long switchbacks along the canyon wall, but it’s rocky, so pay attention. At the Dobbins Lookout junction marker, bear right and follow the trail to the top.
Calories burned: 930
Length: Five miles
Getting there: Take Interstate 10 to Baseline Road and go west. Turn left at Central Avenue and go through the gate. Take the first left past the gate and drive to the end of the road. There is a parking lot, and the trailhead is across the street.
Information: (602) 262-7393 or