Two friends created a hiking group meant to encourage women to focus on wellness and heart health.

The group, "Black Girls Hike," is particularly focused on African-American women, who have the highest rate for cardiovascular disease in the entire state of Colorado and also nationally.

Friends Jessica Newton and Portia Prescott said they founded the group after they discovered they had a mutual appreciation for the outdoors.

Newton said the group has hikers of all ages, backgrounds and fitness levels.

“It’s just a social, almost like a nature, sacred, women collaborative thing. Because you have some women who are spiritual and some women who are logical engineers," Newton said. "You have some women who work for the government, so they are able to find each other on the trail."

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Courtesy Portia Prescott and Jessica Newton

Newton scouts trails ahead of posting them on Meetup.com or social media.

“Scouting is highly important," Newton said.

Newton, a Colorado native, recently hiked the Mesa Trail in Red Rocks Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs on one such scouting excursion.

“We need to know the level of difficulty, the gradient of the hill -- the type of trail. Is it rocky, is it smooth, is it wood, is it just grass, is it muddy?" she said.

Despite the name, Black Girls Hike is open to women of all ethnicities.

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Courtesy Portia Prescott and Jessica Newton

“Everyone is always welcome to Black Girls Hike. We definitely want to be inclusive to everyone," Newton said. "It’s just to really push the agenda for the African American community to fight cardiovascular disease and other health and wellness issues.”

Newton said she hopes Black Girls Hike will provide community for first-time hikers or advanced hikers who fear being the only person of color on a trail.

“Really it’s just to get out and see nature! Let’s hit a trail together."

For more information on Black Girls Hike visit:

The Black Girls Hike group on Meetup.com

The Black Girls Hike Facebook group