Not that you need an excuse to visit your favorite national park, but there's a perfect one this Saturday: National Trails Day!
Around the country this Saturday folks will be taking to hiking trails to celebrate the great outdoors in what the American Hiking Society says is America's largest annual single-day trails and outdoor celebration. Of course, you don't have to pull on a pair of hiking shoes to participate in this event. Organized by the Society, the 22nd annual National Trails Day is a time when hundreds of thousands of hikers, cyclists, paddlers, horseback riders, and volunteers from every state will participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities on land and water trails at more than 2,000 nationally sanctioned events across the land.
Trail stewardship projects are also in abundance, giving volunteers an opportunity to renovate degraded trails, improve trail facilities, and restore natural habitats at their favorite parks and forests.
'Our nation's trails offer Americans from all walks of life boundless opportunities to enjoy nature, renew themselves, and establish a lifetime of fitness' said Gregory Miller, president of American Hiking Society. 'From city dwellers and suburban families to rural and country residents, children to senior citizens, trails offer every American a healthy, enjoyable way to spend time outside.'
Some national parks have scheduled special events to coincide with National Trails Day. At Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, for example, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club invites new hikers and experienced backpackers to learn new trail skills at PATC Trail Patrol's "Beyond the Trailhead" event at Byrd Visitor Center (milepost 51 on Skyline Drive) from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Throughout the day at Shenandoah there will be guided hikes and hands-on demonstrations.
A variety of hikes guided by experienced Trail Patrol members will be offered for people of all ages and experience levels: hikes suitable for families with children as well as easy, moderate, and advanced hikes for adults. Hikers will need to meet at the registration table at Byrd Visitor Center 15 minutes before the hike time to sign in. Hikers should wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the season, and bring food and plenty of water for all hikes and a trail lunch for the advanced hikes.
Pre-registration for some of the events at Shenandoah is appreciated, and you can do so at this site.
At Everglades National Park in Florida, you can volunteer to help clean up the park. Plans are to work on removing graffiti from the popular Bobcat boardwalk and trash from the L67 canal in the Shark Valley District. Volunteers should meet at the Shark Valley Visitor Center Parking lot at 9 a.m. The event will end at approximately 2 p.m., but volunteers are not required to stay the entire time. Park officials say you should be prepared for hot and humid weather. Participants are required to wear long-sleeved shirts, boots, and long pants to protect against exposure to sun, biting insects, poisonwood, and poison ivy.
Park officials will provide all work materials, but you should bring a lunch, water, hat, sunglasses, and maybe a change of clothes. Participating volunteers will receive a free entry pass, enabling each volunteer to visit the Everglades again.
Here's a look at some other scheduled events around the National Park System. Click on the park name to get the details.
To find other events to join this Saturday, check out this page created by the American Hiking Society.