Every week in our GetHiking! enewsletter — which is delivered free every Thursday afternoon — we have a main story, a rundown of all the upcoming hikes in our eight GetHiking! chapters in North Carolina and Virginia, a gear recommendation, a media review, a hiking tip. We also list a favorite resource, sometimes one we find invaluable in planning our hikes, sometimes one that leads us to information that can help enhance our time on the trail, and sometimes one that’s just fun, entertaining, quirky.
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.
Since the early 1990s, the first Saturday in June has been recognized by the American Hiking Society as National Trails Day. It’s a day set aside to honor our favorite trails, hiking or paddling, mountain biking or equestrian.
Around the country, hundreds of events will be held as part of the observation. At some events, folks will gather to spruce up their favorite trails, or to clear new favorites. At other events, folks will gather and hike/bike/paddle/ride.
Saturday is National Trails Day, a time when we pay homage to the more than 200,000 miles of recreational pathways across the land that deliver us from the challenges of day-to-day life. Be it a foot path, a bike path, a canoe trail or a horse trail, events nationwide will give us a chance to either celebrate our trails by using them, or honor them by sprucing ’em up.
Yesterday afternoon I got to experience new trail. Not new to me, new period.
Earlier this year, volunteers from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail connected the 60 miles of MST along Falls Lake with 10 miles of trail along the Eno River through its namesake state park. The long-awaited link between Penny’s Bend to Durham’s West Point on the Eno city park penetrates an especially junglelike stretch of the Eno that required little money but a lot of sweat equity by a workforce headed by FMST volunteer Fred Dietrich.
“Did you see the bridge?” asked FMST member John Willis. “We had to haul the 400-pound support beams 100 feet, which was about 99 feet too far.”
The effort is an example of how the vast majority of our recreational trails come to be: through the dedication of volunteers like Fred, John and legions of others.
On Saturday, June 7, you can become one of those legions. June 7 is National Trails Day, a two-decade-old event sponsored by the American Hiking Society in which we celebrate our trails by hiking them, by maintaining them, by building more of them.
So far, according to the American Hiking Society, 25 NTD events are planned in North Carolina; you’ll find a list of them below. We doubt this list is complete, which is why we run it this week. If you have or know of an NTD event not included here, send us the details — or at least point us in a direction where we can find the specifics.
We’ll rerun a more complete list a week from today, on Thursday, June 5. In the meantime, leave Saturday, June 7 open. You have a date with a trail.