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.
There is a movement afoot to link up two of America’s longest hiking trails in order to create a new route for long distance hikers and backpackers. The proposal would unite the iconic Appalachian Trail with the lesser-known North Country National Scenic Trail, creating a route that would stretch for more than 6100 miles.
The two trails, which stretch 2170 miles and 4600 miles in length respectively, are actually just 40 miles apart at their closest point in Vermont. This has led members of the North Country Trail Association to open a dialog with the National Park Service and local Vermont hiking groups to discuss the idea of linking the two routes. Those discussions have proven fruitful and hikers could soon see that 40-mile gap closed by a new trail.
Almost every hiker is familiar with the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, passing through 14 states in the process. It is considered a true American classic and millions flock to it each year to walk all or a part of the route.
In contrast, the North Country Trail crosses seven states between New York and North Dakota and has remained a work in progress since it was first conceived back in 1980. Sections of the trail are still being developed and unlike its more famous cousin, the NCT is often lacking in campsites and other facilities. To date, just 11 people have managed to hike it end-to-end and it sees far less traffic on an annual basis than the AT.
Even if plans to unite the two trails come to fruition, it is likely to be a few years before they are officially connected. Once they are, however, long distance trekkers will have a new challenge and it’ll only be a matter of time before someone attempts to hike both routes end-to-end.
One of the best aspects of hiking is the escape that it provides from your everyday life. Getting lost – even briefly – in nature allows you to forget that the rest of the world exists. But what happens when you leave the trail and return home? Someone up in Maine decided to plant a remote camera along a trail that cuts through his property. Along with hikers, he recorded footage of moose, deer and even a bear traversing the exact same trail. It’s an eery reminder that while you’re hiking, you’re in animals’ homes.
The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge has introduced a new interactive smartphone capability for visitors. Called iNature Trail, the program utilizes QR (Quick Response) codes that are located around the refuge, which can be scanned by your smartphone using free downloadable applications like Neoscan and QR Scan. Once scanned, the codes will bring up YouTube videos and other informative resources for an enhanced experience in nature. For example, scanning a particular code could bring up a video of the refuge manager welcoming guests to the area, while another might teach users how to plant a mangrove tree.
According to Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, out of the more than 550 national wildlife refuges, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the first to put in place an interactive trail program like this one.
To get a better idea of how the app works, check out this video:
The Great Himalaya Trail is officially open for visitors in Nepal in southern Asia. This trail, which stretches from Taplejung in the east to Humla in the west near the border of Tibet, is one of the longest and highest hiking routes in the world.
The goal of creating this trail is to boost tourism in Nepal and portray the country as the perfect destination for adventure seekers. During the 1,700 kilometer trek, hikers will not only experience nature but also a variety of cultures, as the five month or longer trip encompasses 16 different districts. For hikers who do not want to spend that much time hiking straight through the trail, it can also be done in sections, with each bit offering a different type of landscape to experience.
The Great Himalaya Trail is a great active adventure addition for Nepal, as it is already home to 8 of the world’s 14 highest peaks (all over 8,000 meters), including Mount Everest. For a list of companies that you can sign-up with to complete the trek, click here.