The 10 Best Ways to "Experience Your Outdoors" on National Trails Day

Get Outside on Saturday, June 3, with American Hiking Society

Silver Spring, MD – On June 3, 2006, outdoor enthusiasts, families, and individuals alike will take to America's trails to hike, bike, paddle, and horseback ride in celebration of the 14th annual National Trails Day, American Hiking Society's signature outreach program. National Trails Day is the largest single-day trail celebration in the United States and boasts more than 1,100 locally organized events in all fifty states. The day is centered on healthy outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship, and developing friendships and partnerships – both old and new. The theme for this year's program, Experience Your Outdoors, encourages nature lovers to personalize the day for themselves by exploring trails in a way they may have never before considered.

Below are ten alternative activities, handpicked by American Hiking Society, taking place at several of this year's National Trails Day events that showcase what it means to truly experience your outdoors.

1. Discover the sites and sounds of bird watching. This popular activity is enjoyed by 46 million Americans every year. Grab your binoculars, a field guide, and start practicing your bird calls. Join the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Great Falls, Montana, on a guided birding tour through the refuge led by a knowledgeable birder.

2. Add a little competition to your day by entering a trail race or "fun run." If a casual hike is a little too slow for your style, join Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay and Ultra in Washington State. The Rainier to Ruston attracts trail runners and walkers to race the entire 51-mile course in relays from Mt. Rainier to Puget Sound.

3. Hike a trail by moonlight. Moonlight hikes are a unique way to see the landscape in a new light. Make sure to bring your headlamp and be ready to sharpen your senses. Lake Metigoshe State Park, North Dakota invites you to explore nature's shift into the night.

4. Go geocaching and letterboxing. These modern day treasure hunts, using GPS technology, are the hottest trends in hiking hobbies. Join the Killingworth Land Conservation Trust on the Hammonasset River Trail in Connecticut. Your hike leader will teach you the basics of geocaching and letterboxing.

5. Join a clean-up team or grab a shovel for some trail maintenance. Most trails would not exist if it were not for the volunteers who build, maintain, and keep them clean. Last year on National Trails Day, volunteers contributed more than 200,000 hours of rehabbing trails! REI's Santa Rosa, California, store will host a trail work party in Hood Mountain Regional Park doing tread work and removing invasive species. Bring a pair of gloves and a smile!

6. Get active with your baby. Baby-joggers with mountain bike tires and toddler-trotting frame packs – what will they invent next! Bringing your baby along on a hike or a greenway jog is a fun way to spice up your workout and provides quality parent-child bonding time. The Stroller-Fit® franchise of Portland, Maine is offering interactive classes in local parks all week long. It's a great way to introduce your child to the outdoors.

7. Rivers are trails too! Go for a paddle. Water trails are recreational waterways on a lake, river, or ocean between specific points with access points and picnic and camping sites for the boating public. Experience a one-of-a-kind event along the 100+ mile Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail in southwest Florida. Want to learn how to paddle? Eastern Mountain Sports is offering kayaking demos at an event in Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania.

8. Take the kids on a scavenger hunt. This is a great way to introduce children to outdoor recreation and familiarize them with their natural surroundings. The Girl Scouts of Indian Waters Council will lead a trail scavenger hunt through Camp Nawakwa, a YMCA family camp in northern Wisconsin. This is also a great time to showcase the principles of Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.

9. Experience a trail on horseback. Learn what it means to be an equestrian and saddle up with the Cuyahoga Chapter of the Ohio Horseman's Council (OHC). Thirteen chapters of the OHC in Northeast Ohio are offering members and guests trail rides showcasing the beautiful trails of Cleveland Metroparks.

10. Swap gear and learn new skills. Recycling is not only for paper and plastic; your gear can be given new life by passing it along to another or with a clever repair. Buy, sell, trade or donate your used outdoor gear while also swapping stories and tips on caring for outdoor equipment with other backpackers. Backwoods Equipment, located in Omaha, Nebraska is offering staff-led demonstrations, food and drink, and gear raffles throughout the day.

There are many great ways to have a meaningful and unique trail experience this National Trails Day, throughout the summer and year round. So whether you venture out-of-doors for solitude, family togetherness, spiritual inspiration, the sights, smells and sounds of nature, or a just a good workout, there is a National Trails Day event near you to satisfy everyone's craving. Visit American Hiking Society's website,, to search for an event in your state, town, or community.

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