This Saturday, our GetHiking! hike will also be a National Trails Day hike.
For the past 25 years, the first Saturday of June has been—by decree of the American Hiking Society—National Trails Day, a day dedicated to celebrating our nation’s thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails. Sometimes, that celebration takes the form of a hike, sometimes a bike ride. Often, it’s a trail workday, reminding us that the vast majority of our natural surface trails would not be possible without volunteers. A professional land manager may oversee the blazing and design of the trails, but when it comes to the work of actually clearing the paths— and maintaining them—that’s largely the work of volunteers.
For instance, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail—which spans North Carolina from Clingman’s Dome in the west to Jockey’s Ridge on the Atlantic— all of the nearly 700 miles of trail that currently exist were built by volunteers. In 2017 alone, volunteers put in 36,000 hours on the trail, according to Friends of the MST Outreach Manager Betsy Brown. On the Appalachian Trail, the 2,190-mile length is maintained by 31 regional hiking clubs in 14 states. (See below for clubs in North Carolina and Virginia.)
We do love our trails. And Saturday is an especially good day to show that love by participating in one of the nearly 1,000 NTD events planned nationwide (including 55 in Virginia and 35 in North Carolina). Here’s a sampling of 10 in North Carolina and Virginia:
GetHiking! Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake
GetHiking! celebrates National Trails Day with a 6-mile hike on the MST through the Triangle. This particular stretch follows edge forest, passes old farm ponds, crosses meadows, explores Piedmont history dating back a half century and more.
Troutville Trail Days
Along the line of the big Trails Day in Damascus, Va., Troutville, also located on the AT, has it’s own AT celebration, with guided hikes, live music and a range of vendors.
Beyond the Trailhead
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For anyone who’s ever driven Skyline Drive and wondered what those trail signs were about, Shenandoah National Park and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club’s Trail Patrol aim to show you with guided hikes.
Celebrate the Park
Newport News, VA
Mariners’ Museum hosts a trail extravaganza, with hikes, food and lots of stuff for kids to do.
National Trails Day and Clean the Bay
York River State Park, Williamsburg, VA
8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
A clean-up followed by a Past Plantation Tour, hike of the Osprey Trail, and kids fishing tournament.
Uwharrie Trail Hike
Sponsor: Uwharrie Trailblazers hiking club
Six-mile hike that culminates with a climb to the top of Little Long Mountain, a cleared plateau that offers the best views of central North Carolina’s Uwharrie Mountains.
NTD at Durant Nature Preserve
9 a.m. to noon
Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks & Rec.
Get hands-on experience maintaining a trail. Rakes, pitchforks and wheelbarrows provided; you bring a water bottle, sturdy boots and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Take a Hike at Brunswick Nature Park
Winnabow (near Wilmington)
Sponsor: NC Coastal Land Trust
North Carolina’s land trusts play an often unsung role in protecting valuable natural areas and providing us with unique places to explore. This 2.5-mile hike lead by the NC Coastal Land Trust takes you through one of them.
Panthertown Valley Picnic and Expo
Glenville (near Cashiers)
Hike, bike ride
Sponsor: Friends of Panthertown Valley
There’s a picnic at Salt Rock Gap (one of the main entrances to Panthertown), followed by a hike. You can also learn more about mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing and more in the area.
NTD on the Carolina Thread Trail
Cramerton (Charlotte area)
Hike, kids activities
Sponsor: Hike It Baby
Some day, the Carolina Thread Trail hopes to link 15 counties in the Charlotte area with trails; this hike is on one of segment of that emerging chain — the 0.7-mile Goat Island Greenway and South Fork River Blueway (a paddle trail running 8.4 miles downstream; it is not part of the day’s adventure).
For more events in North Carolina, Virginia and elsewhere, visit the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day page here.
AT maintenance clubs in NC and Virginia:
North Carolina clubs are the Carolina Mountain Club, Nantahala Hiking Club and the Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers, and in Virginia, there’s the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club, Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club, Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club,
Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech