Saturday is National Trails Day

This Saturday, June 4th, outdoor enthusiasts from across the U.S. will be hiking, running, biking, and paddling their favorite trails in celebration of the 19th annual National Trails Day, an event which is sponsored each year by the American Hiking Society. The day serves to not only remind us of the importance of our wild, green spaces, but also to encourage healthy living and an active outdoor lifestyle.

The U.S. has more than 200,00 miles of trails nationwide, many of which wander through some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet. With more than 40 million Americans hiking or backpacking on an annual basis, it has become clear that these trails are an important resource that need to be nurtured and preserved. That is why the AHS not only encourages us to go out and play on the trails this weekend, but to also volunteer some time to a local trail maintenance projects as well. Those efforts will help ensure that our favorite trails will be around for a long time to come, and that future generations can enjoy them too.

The 2011 edition of National Trails Day already has more than 2000 registered events taking place across the country. To find an event close to you, simply click here and use the interactive map at the bottom of the page to discover what is happening in your area. It is an opportunity to give back to your local outdoor community or at the very least to perhaps find a great new trail you didn’t even know existed.

Travelocity video contest awards winners $5,000 voluntourism vacation grants

Travelocity knows you work hard. That’s why the online travel company would like to give you a $5,000 grant to go on vacation.

Calm down now. You have to work to win your just reward. And by work, I mean you or a team need to submit a winning video. Then you have to use your five thousand smackers to take a Signature Trip volunteer vacation offered by Travelocity’s voluntourism partners. Examples include doing trail work in Alaska with the American Hiking Society, developing community projects in Tanzania with Cross-Cultural Solutions, working side-by-side with scientists on an Amazonian riverboat with Earthwatch Institute, or living in a children’s home in Peru with Globe Aware. Oh, and there’s one more catch. The top 25 finalists will be determined based on the number of online votes they receive from social networking sites.

Since 2006, Travelocity’s Travel for Good® program has been annually awarding eight, $5,000 volunteer vacation grants to American applicants. Travel for Good’s main objectives are green hotels and voluntourism. As Gadling has previously reported, voluntourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry.

If hands-on, experiential travel is up your alley, go to The site will walk you through the easy process to upload your video. You can then promote your video on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and send it to friends and family for voting.
Each video should explain why you deserve to win, and which Signature Trip from Travelocity’s voluntourism partners inspires you. Volunteers and grant winners also have use of the site’s free blogging platform to share their experiences.

The top 25 finalists will be determined by 50 percent audience support and 50 percent quality of their videos. There are two contest cycles per year, and Travelocity employees will select four winners from the top 25 finalists from each cycle. There are two deadlines for entries: March 31 (voting is April 1-May 31), and July 1-September 31 (voting October 1-November 30). Get filming!

American Hiking Society

Not sure how many hikers we have out there, but I’m guessing there’s quite a few. The “hiking” sub-category here gets a fair number of hits. So in the way of helping to provide folks with good sources of information on all things hiking, I offer you this link to the American Hiking Society web site. It’s quite well done and provides information on great hiking locales around the country as well as links to ways that you can be pro-active on the hiking scene, doing things like “volunteer vacations” to improve trails and so forth. It also provided me with the heads up that September 30, 2006 is National Public Lands Day, which is as good an excuse as any to haul your butt into the outdoors and do some meandering around America’s vast public lands.