National Trails Day
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The first Saturday every June is designated National Trails Day (NTD) in the United States. On that day every year more than a million hikers, bikers, equestrians, and others take part in thousands of events nationwide in celebration of America's trails. These events include new trail dedications, workshops, educational exhibits, equestrian and mountain bike rides, rollerblading, trail maintenance, and hikes on America's favorite trails. National Trails Day is organized nationwide by the American Hiking Society, a national nonprofit trail advocacy group based in Washington, DC. All events, however, are planned and carried out at the local level by conservation and recreation organizations, trail clubs, and land managing agencies. Originally established in 1993, NTD has grown to approximately 3,000 events across the country. "It has really worked, and the collaboration has been quite extraordinary," noted Steve Elkinton, Program Leader for the National Trails System, when I recently asked him about NTD.
Goals of National Trails Day
In celebrating the values and benefits of our nation's trails, a unifying idea and long-range goal of National Trails Day is the concept of "Trails for All Americans" -- that is, to establish a nationwide network of trails that would link together as part of the nation’s infrastructure of greenways, like the interstate highway system. "The idea of a coordinated system is a difficult objective to achieve" notes Elkinton. "Trails come in so many shapes, sizes, and cut across so many jurisdictional boundaries.