Every spring, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy encourages everyone to join us in celebrating America’s trails on the fourth Saturday of April.
This national day—“Celebrate Trails Day”—is a chance for people from coast to coast to enjoy the tens of thousands of miles of trails that connect the country. For many, that means simply getting outside and experiencing nature in their own neighborhoods, whether that’s going for a walk or ride, hanging out with loved ones, or taking time away from the screen to focus on wellness.
Over the past year, trails have provided this essential close-to-home outdoors space for millions of people, including those who are new to trails and those who’ve been frequenting them for years. And although there are countless ways to spend time on the trail, it’s always helpful to have a little guidance to get you off on the right foot!
With that in mind, our team developed a list of suggestions that could help anyone have a fun time on the trail on Celebrate Trails Day and beyond!
Before you even hit the trail, you can set yourself up for success by taking a few steps to get ready:
- Familiarize yourself with #RecreateResponsibly and Share the Trail guidelines. Together, they provide an overview about how to enjoy the outdoors and trails respectfully.
- Take a peek at the weather report. This will help you make your gear and visit decisions based on the day’s forecast and temperatures.
- Find a trail to visit and learn more about that trail. You can use TrailLink, RTC’s trail guide website and app, to explore approximately 40,000 miles of multiuse trails—including those near you! After you’ve decided upon a trail, it’s always good practice to go online or call ahead to check its operating status, to learn about any important updates and to see which activities are welcomed. To make it as easy as possible for you to come prepared, you can access trail information as well as learn about the trail’s history, amenities, user ratings and more on TrailLink!
All Aboard for Training
If tackling that race or reaching a certain fitness goal has been sitting on your bucket list, then let the trail help you train your way to glory. Whether it’s a bigger goal like biking a century or a smaller one like committing to 30-minute daily walk, the trail can be your free outdoor gym.
Here are a few training guides to try:
If you’re seeking a way to add entertainment or an extra challenge to your trail time, consider gamifying your visits! Ready, Player One? Here are some quick-start games for you:
- Scavenger hunts: You can make your own or use our scavenger hunt to turn your trail time into a game that any explorer would love. You can click here to print out RTC’s kid-friendly trail scavenger hunt or play along on your mobile device.
- Parks & Trails Tour: If you like earning points while getting out in nature and exercising, then you’ll get a kick out of this fun game created by Special Olympics Kansas. Download it here.
- Geocaching and Letterboxing: If established along your local trails, these two treasure-hunting games are sure to provide brain-tickling fun. Geocaching involves using a GPS-enabled device to find your “treasure”—a hidden container—and letterboxing relies on the player to riddle out clues to find these hidden boxes. Here’s a list of trails that are great for geocaching; for everywhere else, please first verify that these games are sanctioned with your trail’s managing organization.
Mix It Up
Sometimes, mixing up your routine can add delicious zest to your life. If you’re in the habit of doing one activity on the trail or if you haven’t used the trail before and are searching for new ideas, we’re here to help! No matter how you choose to switch things up, the change can help bust up boredom and unlock the health benefits of varied physical activity.
Here are a few fresh ideas for your trail outing:
- Seven ideas for spicing up your walks.
- A whole entryway to birding blog series, courtesy of Madison Audubon.
- Go on a cultural tour! If your local trail features art, historical markers, literary signs or another type of cultural installation or integration, go on a tour to better understand and appreciate your community. For example, TrailOff features original audio dramas—stories, poems, and readings—that unfold on trails across the Circuit Trails network in the Greater Philadelphia-South Jersey region.
- We’d also like to introduce you to our super-fun cold-weather trail friends: cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Want more inspiration for getting outside to enjoy and celebrate trails? Check out the Celebrate Trails Day section of our website for tons of resources, tips and fun ideas!