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Hit the trails in June

NationalTRailDayWhen: June 4, 2011

What: Last year, more than 32 million Americans took a hike. Along the way, they may have discovered some of America’s most beautiful and historically important sites. Trails like the Oregon Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail show how America expanded, while others, like the Appalachian Trail, reveal the natural history of the country’s landscape. On June 4, protect and discover America’s trails during National Trails Day.

Background: National Trails Day was started by the American Hiking Society in 1993 to encourage Americans to explore their country’s extensive hiking trail system. The event also promotes hiking as a healthy exercise and rallies support for environmental protection. Local parks, hiking clubs, and recreation departments celebrate the day with events on the trails, including group hikes, trail cleanups, bird watching, and educational hikes. With many trails close to lakes, beaches, and rivers, canoeing and kayaking events are also held on the day. The mission behind this year’s theme, “Made with All Natural Ingredients,” recognizes how the natural features of the U.S., such as mountains, forests, and lakes, contribute to its landscape.

Story Pitch: Since National Trails Day emphasizes experiencing nature, there are many groups and companies that can benefit from promoting this day. Groups that help protect America’s natural places and creatures can promote their cause with specialized trail events and hikes. Local parks can educate the public on how to protect their trails and how to safely enjoy them. Outdoor gear manufacturers can take advantage of this event by sharing how to choose clothing and hiking accessories, and promoting products that help make hiking safer and more comfortable. Meanwhile, health organizations can tout the benefits of hiking as exercise.

Story Hook: The National Trails System was established by Congress in 1968 to connect America, coast to coast, with scenic, historical and recreational trails. Combined, the system of more than 1,000 trails is nearly 54,000 miles long. However, the system is not completely connected, and land is continually set aside for trail development as new trails are completed and opened. What local trails are part of this system? How are they being maintained? What historical sites or places of exceptional natural beauty are along their path? Keep the following in mind as you make your pitch:

  • Hiking is allowed on all trails, but what additional outdoor activities are possible at local trails?
  • How should trail explorers stay safe? How can they avoid dangerous animals, plants, or terrain? Who can help in an emergency?
  • Many hikers enjoy bringing along a canine hiking partner. How can they keep dogs safe on the trail? Can dog activity cause disruption on a trail?
  • How do trails impact local communities? Can they help revitalize an area?

Tips: Provide the information for an experienced hiker, such as one who hiked a major trail end-to-end, to talk about why trails are vital for safe, fun outdoor recreation. Additionally, someone who volunteers to keep trails maintained is a good contact.



American Hiking Society
(301) 565-6704

American Trails
(530) 547-2060

Outdoor Industry Association
(303) 444-3353

The Partnership for the National Trails System
(608) 249-7870


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
(202) 331-9696

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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