It’s that time again, folks! Take that old calendar off your wall and reflect on the things you’ve achieved this year. For us here at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, it was chock-full of trail events, new projects and significant milestones.
But we think it’s more important, and more fun, to think about what’s to come! So to help foster more progress in the coming year, we bring you these 10 trail-inspired resolutions.
Enjoy, and happy New Year!
It should be no surprise that losing weight and getting fit are top on the list of resolutions for many Americans. A few years ago, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett pushed weight loss to the top of his city’s priority list. As part of a quality-of-life initiative called MAPS3, Cornett invested in walking and biking infrastructure, and the city’s trail system is now 13 miles in length—and growing! The investment has paid off for residents, who are shedding pounds and hitting the trail in record numbers.
2Volunteer to help others.
Donating a few hours of your time to help someone else doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right? Consider reaching out to your local trail organization. In many cases, these groups are “fighting the good fight” when it comes to planning, building and maintaining the trails you know and love, and many of them would happily accept your volunteer time and energies. This sure is the case in Pennsylvania, where people are pitching in to keep their trails in tip-top shape. So go ahead and lend a hand!
You’d be astounded to know how much money you can save by walking or biking to get where you need to go! Consider commuting by bike one day a week, or try shifting a portion of your daily commute to an active mode of transportation. The folks who use the Legacy Parkway Trail just north of Salt Lake City, Utah, sure do reap the benefits! The route parallels a commuter train for part of its length, allowing commuters to squeeze in some exercise, save a few dollars and get to work on time!
4Eat healthy food.
Trails and community gardens are a natural fit, and in many communities, the two are intertwined. For example, the Richmond Greenway in Richmond, Calif., features not only a trail, but also herb, vegetable and native plant gardens. A true community undertaking, this greenway serves as a place to enjoy open space and also learn about food sourcing and local gardening. Combine a stroll on the trail with your weekly fresh veggie haul; your body will thank you.
Psst…. We’re about to tell you a secret that’s never been shared. Ready? Exercise reduces stress! Can you believe it?! Alright, we know you’ve heard it a million and a half times, but it’s true. Who could be stressed after a ski on New Hampshire’s Presidential Range Rail Trail or a stroll along Florida’s Blountstown Greenway Bike Path? Make a half hour walk a part of your daily routine, and let your stress dissipate as the year chugs on.
6Learn a new skill.
Do you want to learn how to take the perfect trail photo? How about being able to identify all the wildflowers that bloom along the Wolf River Greenway in Tennessee? Have those fly fisherman wading in the Casselman River caught your eye as you pedal along the Great Allegheny Passage? Now is the perfect time to pursue those interests and transform your curiosity into a new hobby.
7Reduce your impact.
Rail-trails are the ultimate example of recycling, and so when it comes to reducing one’s impact, we have to give ourselves—and trail supporters everywhere—a big pat on the back. But of course, reducing one’s impact goes far above and beyond building trails. When you’re on the trail, abide by the principles of Leave No Trace. Clean-up days, like the annual event on Connecticut’s Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, are excellent places to pitch in and reduce your impact on the earth.
8Join an activity.
Trails support a huge range of activities, from birding to jogging to biking and beyond. So if you’re looking to try something new on your local trail, there’s surely a group of enthusiasts with whom you’ll fall right in line! You could even consider checking out a dual-interest group, like the Paradise Paddlers and peddlers Club on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, for example.
9Spend more time with family and friends.
Community and family are at the heart of the American trail experience. Trails provide safe places for us to teach our kids how to ride without training wheels, a venue to share our common love for the outdoors with loved ones, a perfect excuse for catching up with an old friend. Indiana dad Mark Stosberg knows the connection between trails and family well; he and his wife and children are making adventure cycling on cargo bikes a summer family tradition.
Exploring new places—and new trails, to be exact—is a blast, but where should you go? For your next adventure, you might try one of RTC’s Hall of Fame trails. With 27 unique pathways of various lengths scattered across the country to choose from, you’re sure to find one that strikes your fancy. The rail-trail magic is pervasive along these charismatic corridors. We can’t think of a more worthwhile use of those vacation days!
Do you like these ideas? Looking for more? Here's 28 more ways you can be trail-inspired in 2015!