Board of Directors Feature: Felicia Kemp

Over the last few weeks, we have introduced the newest American Hiking Board of Directors members. In this final introduction installment, we invite you to say a trail hello to Felicia Kemp.

Felicia began camping and hiking throughout the U.S. with her family when she was young; her participation in Scouting solidified her love for the outdoors and forged her connection to wild places. Her hiking adventures have taken her to many places, including the Grand Canyon, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, Acadia National Park, and countless other trails.

Finding meaning in the outdoors


Felicia lives in Northern California with her family, where she shares her hiking adventures online through "Family Trail Time." She is the founder of Take A Hike Tay-Sachs in support of Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation and also founded the group Sacramento Women Hikers. She and her husband have made exploring the outdoors a significant part of their family life. When their middle child was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, Felicia saw firsthand some of the barriers that exist in accessing the outdoors. They still headed to the trails but became keenly aware of issues they had not always noticed before, like being able to find ADA-compliant paths for their son's wheelchair.

Felicia brings to American Hiking a deep commitment to making sure barriers to the outdoors are addressed and a strong advocacy background as an attorney. She holds hiking and spending time outdoors as critical components to provide balance in her busy life. "I think hiking is one of the easiest ways to find health and wellness. It's the simplest, easiest, and most accessible way to have that balance in your life. The feeling of the sun on your skin, breathing in fresh air, having your heart pump your blood, touching the ground, all of those things help us to remember who we are and what's important in this life."


Half Dome trail magic

When asked about one of her most memorable hikes, Felicia recounted her and her husband's 2021  Half Dome hike in Yosemite; their first getaway together after their son Grayson passed away from Tay-Sachs in December 2019. 

"One of my deepest life experiences was doing Half Dome with my husband. I feel like hiking Half Dome is a rite of passage for a lot of hikers, especially in Northern California. Additionally, the miles provided hours of talking and bonding between us, which naturally included some processing of our grief." Felicia and her husband met many people on the long and strenuous trail to Half Dome that day - stopping at water breaks and vistas to talk and connect, as fellow hikers often do. They passed a group of women near the start, when everyone still had on headlamps, and then recognized and made small talk with two of those women again along the way.

There is a point on the 16-mile trail called 'the cables' where hikers pause to consider if they should continue up the final steep and treacherous slope of the face of Half Dome or save their remaining strength for the second half of the hike. 

"Before the hike, we had talked about if either one of us felt physically, mentally, or emotionally that we needed to turn around, we were just going to turn around - no questions asked. We made to the cables, and as the result of a heart-to-heart of deep reflection (and without climbing harnesses), we decided not to do the cables. We got as far as we were meant to that day."

"There at the subdome, we saw those same two women we had seen along the way. They noticed my husband’s “Take A Hike Tay-Sachs” shirt and we talked about Grayson, as they prepared to ascend the cables. They asked if they could go up the cables in honor of Grayson – if they, too, could carry Grayson in their hearts. It showed the beauty we can find in each other and how, even as strangers, we can carry each other. Especially on a hike like Half Dome, where everyone is so focused on their own goal, it was just one of those moments in life where you realize there's good in this world and people at their core can be good. It was the magic of everything coming together in nature."

Making hiking more accessible for all

Felicia is looking forward to deepening the work American Hiking is doing on our
JEDI initiatives and our core values of making hiking more accessible for all.

"I think part of what intrigued me the most is what's happening with JEDI because of my experience in that space through my legal career, and also as a person who maybe doesn't look like they fit in the outdoors or they don't always necessarily belong.

Though I've hiked all my life, I am a plus-size Latina, and I’ve never seen many people who look like me on the trail. Helping others feel comfortable in the outdoors is really important to me, in part because I know what it feels like to be perceived as not belonging. It's deeper than just throwing a program together or inviting people to something. It's systemic. It needs to be in every aspect of what we're doing.

Being a member of the Board will allow me to expand on and further deepen what I'm already working towards. Being a single voice, you can do only so much. It’s when you join in unison with others, that there's more impact to be had."

Please join Felicia in continuing to create a trail community where all are welcome and ready to share some of that trail magic with those we meet along the way. Also, be on the lookout for Felicia's new book,
Northern California Hiking from Moon Travel Guides, set to be released April 2, 2024. Felicia is co-author of the book, which includes hiking guidance, maps, color photographs, and tips and tricks throughout. 

Felicia’s Favorite Hikes:

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Lake 22, Granite Falls, WA

Plitvice Lakes, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia


We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the newest members of American Hiking Board of Directors. Welcome again to Jacob Camp, Jeff Hayward, Yann Tanini, and Felicia Kemp. Being together on the trails and supporting each other is at the heart of American Hiking, and we are thankful to have such a dynamic and dedicated Board of Directors who actively work to ensure everyone feels welcome in the American hiking community.