On June 4th, the American Hiking Society invites you to lace up your boots and head outside! First started in 1991, and celebrated every year on the first Saturday in June, National Trails Day is meant to encourage people to get outside, and to explore the many recreation options available on America’s public lands.
To that end, National Trails Day embraces a wide definition of what constitutes a trail. Paddling, horseback riding, bird-watching, geocaching, trail maintenance, and of course, hiking, are all some of the events that will be happening in parks and public lands across the country in conjunction with National Trails Day.
The American Hiking Society estimates there are over 200,000 miles of trails in the US (if you laid them end to end they would be long enough to circle the earth eight times!) That’s a lot of trails to be celebrating! The purpose of National Trails Day is also to draw attention to the work that goes into developing and maintaining these trails – work performed by local volunteers, park rangers, college-age trail crews, or volunteers taking a working vacation to help give back to America’s public lands, be they world-renowned natural treasures, or locals-only gems.
Last year, the American Hiking Society estimated there were nearly 80,000 hikers taking part in National Trails Day hikes and other events. Even more impressive, last year a whopping 24,000 volunteers got out with their gloves and pruning shears, shovels and weed-whackers, to spend the day improving America’s trail network.
To find an event in your state, check out the American Hiking Society webpage. A quick search of Alaskan events brought up everything from a family hike at Grewingk Glacier Lake, to a two-day trail-clearing event in Kachemak State Park near Homer (complete with a stay at a remote yurt), to a Dandelion Demolition in Denali National Park. Invasive species removal, brush clearing, and community beautification are all some of the ways you can contribute your time and energy to give back to your local trails.
Want something more our of your volunteering than that glow that comes with doing a good deed? The friendly folks at Denali National Park are offering a free shuttle bus voucher to those who participate in the Dandelion Demolition. (Interested? Find out more at https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=1458064-307230)
Think these events are only happening in remote parks in faraway places? Last year, Connecticut hosted more National Trails Day events than any other state, with a whopping 260 different events. Keep your cameras handy while you’re out; the AHS is offering prizes for the best photos uploaded to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #NationalTrailsDay or #trailsDayChallenge.
See a few of last years’ winning National Trails Day photos here – http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/photos-videos/
To look up a National Trails Day event near you, visit http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/events/
To learn more about the American Hiking Society, visit http://www.americanhiking.org