Sahara at lake, nike white scarf, nike black shirt, blue joggers - smiling at camera.

Towards the end of August, I was chatting with a friend about hiking and asked if they had any recommendations on where to explore. With several months behind us in the work from home life, I can honestly say the only outside I see is my house street - I run miles back and forth on my street. My neighbors are pretty much very in tune to my weekly mileage as they see me every morning around 7AM back and forth on my street from their windows/balconies. So you can say I wanted something new to see that wasn't the outside of my house. My friend mentioned a few trails that linked to the AllTrails app/website, I've never heard of the app before as usually when I wanted to explore nature I'd always just google hiking trails near me and see what came up. Guess who'll never be typing that into a google search engine?

This app is the gift that keeps on giving.

I really wonder how I haven't come across this app sooner. Google really failed me and my google searching when searching for hiking trails near me. When you make your account, in the app the homepage shows Top Trails nearby, Best views nearby, Trails less traveled, Dog friendly trails nearby, Weekend worthy, Best waterfalls, Top moderate trails nearby, and Best lakes nearby.

The best part is that there's also a scrolling toggle for you to choose based on suitability for Dogs, kid friend, stroller friendly, Wheelchair Friendly, Paved and Partially Paved. I really loved to see that because that means that families can choose a trail without worrying about edges, strollers won't be a hassle to roll, and Wheelchair users can equally find a trail that they are able to go through to enjoy hiking in nature.

There's also a section to browse by activity - Hiking, Mountain Biking, Trail Running, Backpacking, Walking, Road Biking, Off Road Driving, Camping, Bird Watching, Horseback riding, Nature Trips, Fishing, snowshoeing, Scenic Driving, Rock Climbing, Paddle Sports, Cross Country Skiing, Skiing, Bike Touring, Via Ferrata. Okay yes I sound like an infomercial but I literally couldn't leave anything out - this has been the only app I've been recommending left and right since I've heard of it - this also made me realize how powerful word of mouth was, my friend told me about this app, and then I in turn have told a handful of friends and then it carries on like a domino effect of people recommending the app which wouldn't have happened if I didn't ask my friend if he had any hiking recommendations. ANYWAYS.

One thing I really want to do is learn how to properly ride a horse, I do know how to ride a horse like I won't just tumble off it - yes I know how to ride a horse but I really would love to take lessons and this app was like a golden buzzer to show me where I could potentially live up my equestrian life. And Bike riding! I've been riding a bike since I was a kid, but haven't been riding it as of late. Yes, yes I know - HOW. I guess that would have to be because the bike lane by me is shared by cars so not a specific lane for Bikers so uh hello fear number 23457. But! With a place designated for bike riding, no chance of a car coming in swinging! Just a path and helmet protected bike rider waiting to ride.

I've also never done trail running before per se, more so just hiking. I think the first time I went on an actual hike was a 6th Grade field trip where I had to bear crawl down a steep decline. After reading Born to Run I have to say I am definitely considering going on potential trail runs - even if I do have a fear of like a misstep and my ankle doing that ankle thing randomly and suddenly falling.

Sahara, on road in between road on yellow part
annnnd let's get our explore on - there weren't cars on the road for like 5 minutes so took this and then a car came a minute after so good timing on my end!

A few other sports that I would love to focus on are basically everything on that list because clearly sports make my world go round.

As I have settled into the normal of Working From Home life, spending time outside has shrunk - time for commute back and forth aka time spent outside went poof. Although I personally run and exercise outside my house I feel like I just needed a change of scenery. Obviously the summer was spent indoors without the usual summer fun, which can kind of feel like we're sort of trapped in our homes until Carona decides to pack up and go - well technically speaking, we are.

One creator that I've really been enjoying on Instagram is HelloMissJordan. If you don't follow her, hi you should probably fix that here is her account linked again. She's a travel, fashion, and lifestyle blogger - as COVID has meant a halt on traveling, that's meant she had to get creative and explore where she currently is. Although she hasn't been hopping on planes, she has been putting out amazing content - all exploring the places around her that she hasn't explored before as her priority previously was outside of the U.K not in it. There's everything from castles, lakes, and viaducts near her that she previously hadn't sought out before.

So rather than the travel bug, I guess you can say I got the explore bug.

I want to see more of where I lived. There are so many places I haven't been and that's mainly because I've never sought them out before. I spend majority of my 9-5 staring at a screen so any time spent away from a screen and in nature, you can sign me right up for that. So this is where the AllTrails app/website comes into action. For my first adventure, instead of living up my equestrian life or Mountain Biking, I decided to do one thing I've always done from time to time - hiking. 

Choosing one place out of all the ones I saw was the tricky part - if I could I would be heading out to a place every day after work and through the weekend but realitically speaking wow that sounds like a lot of driving so guess I'll settle for weekend hiking adventures. I ended up choosing a hiking area that led up to a lake and continued on through the trails. There's just something about walking on a trail through trees that really is a spell for calmness and also excitement. Obviously since it was a trail I've never been on I was curious to see how many twists and turns it took to get to the end goal of the lake - and also how many times my ankle did that twisty thing was actually interesting. And by that I mean I was saying a silent prayer that this hike won't twist my ankle and put me out of running.

On the way going, I did pass a few people making their way back to the start and funnily enough my sister and I were asked how far until back to the start. At that point we were maybe 20 minutes in so hearing that meant we had to buckle up for the long ride that was this trail. We finally managed to get to the lake we saw in the photos and I'm not even joking when I say that water was clearer than my skin ever will be. You could quite literally see the sand underneath - it was clear blue like I've never seen before. And there's reason for that - it's a protected lake. That means no motor boat or swimming is allowed which then meant that there's no pollution entering the water which means hi crystal blue water that is shinning bright like a diamond.

crystal clear lake, trees on the side
no filter! can we talk about how clear this looks!!
We were able to touch the water and it was actually pretty lukewarm - and while we were standing looking at the water some people actually had one of those filter things where they could dunk the bottle/bag inside the lake and then when they take it out, the filter cleans the water for people to drink from it. Basically do I need that in my life? Yes, Yes I do. To be fair one thing I want that when I googled found was a bottle that takes moisture from the air and converts that into drinkable water. Now basically the magical lake filter and magical moisuture-to-drinkable-water-filter are on my wants list.

We always speak of hidden gems when traveling to a new country or town, but do we know of the hidden gems of where we live?

I used to think I knew my area inside and out but based on scrolling through this app there's a lot I didn't know- starting with the amount of waterfalls by me. When I clicked through the app I discovered so many beautiful places that I've never heard of before - all about an hour or 2 drive. Some were as low as even a 30 minute drive. I personally just love being in nature in general - so this hike was really what I needed after spending so long inside. 

The best part is just seeing the shift in trees from vibrant green to warm toned leaves, like an ombre effect on the trees while driving to the hiking area. It often feels like the road goes on forever with trees at either side. If anything, exploring nature definitely increases the quality of air I'm breathing - I once went to a greenhouse and I am 90% convinced the air we breathe is a cheap knock off version of actual oxygen.

If there's one thing I felt like doing when I hiked up to a protected lake a few weeks back it's curling up on a log, and reading a book - it was just such a peaceful hike and exciting too because wow! a new place to explore! after several long months of nothing! While hiking avoiding bumping into people wasn't too difficult, for the most part if I saw someone up ahead I'd move out of the trail path to let them pass and we'd exchange hello's as we passed one another.

Sahara at lake - peace sign
ah yes, me in my natural habitat - peace sign at the ready

There's a lot more to discover near me, so I guess you can say I'll just be here in my corner being the Sherlock Holmes of hidden pockets of peace. Or should I say Enola Holmes?

Now I turn it over to you - hidden gems everywhere, do you really know the place you live? Have you heard of the AllTrails App? Planning to download it? Let's get chatting!


Alltrails website:
AllTrails App Store:
AllTrails Google Play:

AND no - I was not paid to promote this app/website, I literally just wanted to share the app because I love it and it's a great way to explore where you live KK THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME