When National Trails Day got its start in the early 1990s, it was gauged by the number of events and participants.
“Media impressions,” of which there were more than 900 million in 2018.
For the past 25 years, the American Hiking Society has decreed the first Saturday in June to be National Trails Day, a day of celebration for our beloved hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Events around the country celebrate by holding trail workdays, hikes and various celebratory events. It’s a great opportunity to get out and let your local trails know how much you appreciate them.read more
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
In North Carolina, 26 National Trails Day events have been registered with the sponsoring American Hiking Society. That number doesn’t include many of the events going on Saturday at North Carolina’s State Parks, nor a number of the workdays scheduled around the state; the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, for instance, has multiple workdays going on across the length of this 1,150-mile trail.
For this weekend, we suggest you search the sites listed below to find a National Trails Day event near you. Identify an event, then spend the day in devout observance.
North Carolina Land Trusts, in addition to being National Trails Day, it’s also Land Trust Day, and many of North Carolina’s 24 land trusts have activities planned. Find your local land trust at the Conservation Trust for North Carolina site and go from there.
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That’s our thought for the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.
Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.
North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).
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.
The sponsoring American Hiking Society lists 31 National Trails Day events in North Carolina. From that list, which you can find in its entirety here, we’ve pulled three activities — at the coast, in the Piedmont and in the mountains — that we think you’ll find particularly appealing.
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge occupies 153,000 acres of some of the most ecologically impressive terrain in North Carolina. Situated on a spit of rich organic and mineral soils on a peninsula between the mainland and the Outer Banks, the refuge is known largely for its diverse cast of critters, black bears, red wolves, coyotes and alligators among them.
But it also supports a range of ecosystems, including Atlantic white cedar forest, bay forest, brackish and freshwater marshes, cyrpress-gum forest, freshwater lakes and ponds, high shrub pocosins … the list goes on. It’s one of those places where you wish you knew at least a few of the key players.
That can happen Saturday, on a Plant and Tree ID Hike in the refuge. Local plant expert Bob Glennon leads a hike not only identifying plants but explaining the role they play in the overall scheme of things. The hike is on the half-mile-long, handicap accessible Creef Cut Trail.
Logistics: Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, off Milltail Road. For more information call 252.475.4180 or visit here.
Looking ahead: From National Trails Day this Saturday to National Get Outdoors Day next Saturday, the outdoors celebration continues. As part of NGOD, Dismal Swamp State Park is holding a Summer Paddle at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, all equipment included. More info by calling 252.771.6593.
Here in the U.S., we largely hike to forget. OK, perhaps “forget” is a little extreme, suggesting that we hike with a hiking staff in one hand, a bottle in the other. Rather, we hike to help cope with the stress of often chaotic lives. Put us on a trail, let our minds wander, we’re happy.
They likely hike for similar reasons in Germany and in the rest of Europe, but they also tend to hike with a sense of purpose, banding together into “volksmarch” clubs and hiking predetermined routes based on intriguing points of interest. And, they also like to get credit for their hikes, earning stamps, pins and patches on their merry, marching way.
We love trails. You love trails.
Saturday, we show that love during the annual National Trails Day observation. Launched by the American Hiking Society in the early 1990s, NTD is the one day of the year where express our love of hiking trails, paddle trails, singletrack mountain bike trail, doublewide equestrian trail … if it’s a trail, it’s covered under the NTD rainbow.
Dozens of National Trails Day events are planned in North Carolina for Saturday. We’ve compiled a list of 37 events; we provide the basics and a link or phone number where you can score 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.
Asheville: Mountains-to-Sea Trail Workday, Soco Gap area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Carolina Mountain Club. 8:30 a.m. (carpool from Asheville). More info at 828.230.1861 or firstname.lastname@example.org.