Hiking Is the Most Popular Outdoor Activity in America—and it’s Only Getting More Popular

The Outdoor Industry Association’s annual outdoor participation survey found the United States added 881,000 new hikers in 2022—and that the outdoors are becoming more diverse.

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Hiking was the most popular outdoor activity across America last year and is still growing, according to a new report from an outdoor industry trade group. 

In the latest edition of its annual Outdoor Participation Trends Report, the Outdoor Industry Association wrote that 881,000 people began hiking in 2022 alone. In total, the group estimates, the U.S. now has a population of 59.6 million hikers.

Despite its popularity, hiking isn’t growing at the same speed as other sports. In 2022, hiking experienced 1.5 percent growth. On the other hand, camping—a term the OIA defines as including backyard camping, car camping, backpacking, and RVing—grew by 12%, to 51.4 million campers, the fastest growth of any activity surveyed except for snowshoeing. Overall, the share of people who participate in outdoor activities in the United States grew by 2.3%.

In addition to seeing a boost in overall participation, the OIA’s report suggested that the outdoors are becoming more diverse. Those gains weren’t evenly distributed, however: While Hispanic people’s participation in the outdoors increased from 34% to 56% over the past 7 years—the most of any racial or ethnic group the survey measured—Black people’s participation rates grew only slightly, topping 40% this year. The OIA’s report found that Asian and Pacific Islander people’s participation in the outdoors has dropped from a high of above 70% in 2017 to slightly below 60%, though that group still had the highest participation rate overall. LGBTQIA+ people also became more likely to recreate outdoors in 2022, with 61% of the community—an estimated 18 million people—going outside last year. 

It’s not all upside in the outside, however. While hiking was the most popular activity across the nation, the OIA’s survey found that the average hiker is getting out less, with the number of outings per participant remaining low at just 6 per year on average. Compared to running, which was the second most popular outdoor sport, that’s about 48 fewer outings on average per person. This could indicate that more people are trying hiking out, but not fully dedicating themselves to the activity. 

From 2023