Six Ways to Be a Good Steward on Celebrate Trails Day (and Every Day)
This year, Celebrate Trails Days takes place on April 22—the same day as Earth Day! That means double the opportunity to celebrate nature and the outdoors while demonstrating stewardship on our nation’s trails.
Below are just a few ways you can participate on Celebrate Trails Day while showing a little love to your community and the planet.
1Give Back Through a Group Cleanup Activity
One of the easiest ways to give back while enjoying a day on the trail is through a volunteer cleanup or beautification event. If you’re interested in joining a group service activity, check out the official Celebrate Trails Day 2023 event page, which lists and maps nearly 100 registered projects and events nationwide—including trash pickups, trail and park landscaping and beautification projects, tree plantings, and many other activities aimed at making our world a better place, community by community.
Related: Ways to Celebrate Trails
2Organize Your Own Volunteer Service Day
You might try organizing your own group cleanup in partnership with a local trail; in fact, the people at EARTHDAY.ORG have provided this handy toolkit to assist you in making the most out of your service day.
For ultra-localized information on possibly events near you, check out TrailLink.com™, which lists maps, waypoints and website information for an estimated 40,000 miles of multiuse trails.
And don’t forget about plogging!
3Swap a Trip and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Right now, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States can be attributed to the transportation sector, which accounts for about 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing down these emissions will help decrease our carbon footprint and mitigate the impacts of climate change caused in part by the heavy use of fossil fuels—while making our communities and our planet a healthier place. And what better, and more fun, way to do that than by swapping out a car trip for a walk or a bike ride?
The best part is that anyone can participate and make a difference this way—regardless of weather, age, ability or skill level.
And why stop after Celebrate Trails Day and Earth Day are over? You can kick things off on April 22, and then be a friend to the planet all year long by walking and biking to your daily destinations.
Did you know? Half of all trips that we take in the United States are within a 20-minute bike ride, and a quarter are within a 20-minute walk.
Related: Swap Out a Car Trip for a Trail Trip With These Tips and Tricks
4Recycle Your Bike
“It’s resource- and carbon-intensive to put bikes out into the world, so we need to do anything we can to cut down the greenhouse gasses put out by these products,” said Nate Pelczar—a cyclist and special projects manager at the California Product Stewardship Council—in an October 2022 article in Bicycling.com by Geoff Nudelman.
To avoid bikes and parts ending up in landfills, Nudelman encourages everyone to “find a second life” for their bikes and to attempt to make sure parts that are recyclable find their way to the appropriate organizations and charities. As noted by Nudelman, “Most parts can be repurposed” in some way.
5Adopt a Trail
Just like swapping out car trips, volunteer service on the trail doesn’t have to be limited to just one day a year. In fact, many “adopt-a-trail” programs—like this one from the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, to this one from Parks & Trails New York that supports a larger network, and even nationwide programs—make it possible for you to show your commitment to stewardship on your local trail or trail network by taking on a short segment for things such as litter removal, mowing, maintenance, branch removal, etc.
Pro tip: Most programs come with an application and training process. Just google “Adopt a Trail” and the location you wish to explore to find options near you.
6Leave No Trace
There are many ways we can be good stewards of trails, but perhaps the easiest and most effective way to protect our local pathways and our environment is simply by “leaving no trace”—and ensuring that we’re being as respectful as we can to our surroundings, wildlife and our communities and Native lands when we’re enjoying a day on the trail.
Afterall, we are all in this together—both on and off the trail.
Learn more about trail etiquette and the importance of recreating responsibly.
12 Resources for Building Trail Stewards
The maintenance and sustainability of America’s multiuse trails can be attributed largely to volunteers and stewardship groups who leverage resources and networks—local, state, governmental and other—to maintain many trails across the country.
Check out this list of resources by American Trails to help build, support or expand a local trail stewardship network in your area.