Take A Hike! (For National Trails Day)

National Trails Day is today!
American Hiking Society

The American Hiking Society has declared today National Trails Day across the U.S. in an effort to encourage all of us to get outside and visit our favorite trail. This annual celebration of the outdoors serves as a reminder of the fantastic natural resources that we have around us and how important it is for our general health and well being to connect with nature on a regular basis.

With more than 200,000 miles of trails across the country, the U.S. has one of the best trail systems in the entire world. No matter where you live, chances are there is a great trail nearby just waiting to be explored. Many of those trails even offer mixed-use access, so even if you’re not a fan of hiking, you can go mountain biking or horseback riding along the route. There are even plenty of popular paddling trails too, giving kayakers and whitewater rafters a chance to join in on the fun.

In celebration of National Trails Day there are events scheduled to take place in all 50 states. Those activities include guided hikes, trail running events, group rides and much, much more. There are also numerous opportunities to join a volunteer group conducting trail building exercises. Those activities will repair damage to existing trails and conduct work on building new ones.

Whether you take part in one of these organized events or simply stroll a favorite trail through your neighborhood, the important thing to remember is to just get outside today. Turn the cellphone off, leave the iPod behind and spend a little time enjoying nature. It won’t cost you anything and chances are you’ll feel a whole lot richer for the experience.

Saturday is National Trails Day

National Trails Day is Saturday, June 4th!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.

National Trails Day: Get moving

Yesterday was National Trails Day. Sorry not to give the heads up sooner, but I found this out while I was hiking on a trail and without WiFi access. If you can swing a hike today on a national trail, I’d take one. If not today, than soon.

Make a plan for next weekend if you must. It doesn’t have to be major hike, but give yourself enough time for your arms and legs to move in a rhythm with each other where you have time to find your stride. If there are trees around, a bit of nature, wildflowers, a bubbling brook–great.

On such a hike, keep an eye out for things you don’t normally notice. A spider web that’s stretched between two twigs, a large leaf clump high over head that marks a squirrel’s home, a bird’s nest, a butterfly that’s dipping down for a drink in a stream, the way water shimmers in the sun when it’s illuminated on a rock face. These are some of the reasons for taking a hike in Ohio where this picture was taken.

In New Mexico, it’s the smell of juniper berries and pinion trees and the steady progress as you make your way up the Sandia Mountains or the Jemez–or any other steep mountains in the state. There are switchback after switchback. Notice how the earth turns brilliant orange or deep red depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun.

However, even if you live in an urban area, make up your own trail in the spirit of National Trails Day. Head out on the streets on your own volition–much further than your parked car or the closest subway or bus stop or metro. See where you live from a more intimate angle. Say, “Hi,” to folks as you pass. See what’s going on and which people’s yards make you smile with their riot of flowers if you live in suburbs, or in a neighborhood like I do–not downtown, but not suburban either. If you live in true city terrain, see which people have planted flower boxes and have hung them on the windows of their brownstones. Notice the way your feet move along a sidewalk and the strength of your gait.

No matter where you live, a hike does good, which is one reason to celebrate National Trail Day one day late-plus it gives the exclamation “Why don’t you take a hike?” a positive spin.

When I was on my hike at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills area of Ohio, thanks to the state park naturalist I was with, I saw treasures like spider webs that look like jewels clinging to the gorge’s walls and columbine, the tiny flowers that serve as a hummingbird’s drinking fountain. The flower he showed me had been used by a bee that had opened the petals further.

To help plan ahead, National Trails Day is always the first Saturday of June. Find a 2009 calendar and mark it.