Goats, Wheelchairs, Cub Scouts, Mountain Bikes, and Trash!
You may be wondering what all of these things could possibly have in common. And why on earth are they all strung together in the title of this blog?
It’s actually very simple; all of them were part of the 20th National Trails Day® on June 2, 2012 – America’s Largest TRAILgating Party!
You might be thinking that National Trails Day®, as a program of American Hiking Society, is all about hiking on foot trails. Admittedly, that’s a big part of the celebration, but it is much broader than that and encompasses all kinds of trails and a wide variety of activities.
Take the goats, for example. A group of kids from the Frederick County 4-H Packgoat Group in Maryland led a hike on Saturday at the Monocacy National Battlefield. As explained by Brian Talbert, “The kids work with the goats throughout the year, training them for trail use. As they progress, the goats will wear saddles and panniers and carry supplies for backcountry camping. They will also participate in trail cleanup activities where the goats are hauling out trash!” Llamas and mules, move over and share the trail with these fantastic kids — oops, I should say children– and their goats.
Now on to the wheelchairs. In Waterville, Maine, a group of 60 people celebrated the opening of a 100-year-old footbridge to wheelchairs, thereby establishing a connection between wheelchair-accessible trails on both sides of the Kennebec River. According to Peter Garrett, the project took eight years to complete and cost $269,000, and the end result is four miles of trails that are now available to those in wheelchairs. This is definitely how we roll!
Next let’s talk about the Cub Scouts. The cubs and leaders of Pack 71 in Groveport, Ohio, picked up nearly 20 bags of trash and debris on trails along Big Walnut and Alum Creeks as part of National Trails Day®. These young trail stewards and any other boy scouts who participated in National Trails Day® events can get a special patch to celebrate their dedication to the trails.
And about those mountain bikes. According to Rachel Schober, “The first mountain bike trail in Camden County, Georgia, was dedicated on National Trails Day®. It sits right on the Coastal Georgia Greenway (a Rails to Trails project) in the heart of Woodbine, Georgia. There’s now a total of 2.7 miles of pavement and boardwalk through town and along the Satilla River, plus the new ¾ mile mountain bike trail.” This is also how we roll!
Finally, let’s talk trash. Rick Deustch, better known to many as Mr. Half Dome, led a hike in Fremont, CA, to the top of 2500 ft Mission Peak. “The peak is a favorite San Francisco Bay area destination, and our team picked of several bags full of trash at the top and along the trail. Seems the Leave No Trace principles are not known by most, and garbage is thought to be ‘biodegradable.’” Thanks for leaving the peak better than you found it, Rick!
These examples are just a very small sampling of the nationwide celebration of trails on Saturday. There was also kayaking on a paddle trail in Hawaii, boardwalk construction at Denali National Park in Alaska, trail building on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail in North Carolina, and much, much more. We’re still collecting the stories and statistics and will report on them later. In the meantime, be sure to check out the postings on the American Hiking Society and National Trails Day® Facebook pages. And add your own story if you hosted or attended an event on Saturday – we’d love to hear about your own TRAILgating celebration!
National Trails Day is made possible by the generous support of our Corporate Partners – Adventure Medical Kits, Columbia, Gerber, Merrell, Milk-Bone® Trail Mix, and The North Face, as well as our NTD Supporters – American Park Network, Backpacker magazine, Boy Scouts of America, Eastern Mountain Sports, REI, and YMCA of the USA, and Federal Partners – the Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.