Stories from trail enthusiasts of all ages
To celebrate this year of 2018 with so many important landmarks, like the 50th anniversary of the Trails Act, the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the 30th anniversary of American Trails, we reached out to people all over the country to tell us what trails mean to them. The response we got back from people of all ages, locations, and walks of life was overwhelming. Here are some of their stories.
I’m one years old and and am sitting strapped to my dad’s back, hiking for miles and humming the whole time. I’m eight years old and I sprained my ankle running too fast on the trails behind my house. I’m 10 years old and I’m taking my puppy for a walk for the very first time, his leash getting tangled between my legs as I walk up the familiar road. I’m 14 and I’m wandering out to find my dad, before spending the next hour beside him quietly clipping hedges and pulling up multiflora rose.
I was practically born on a trail. I knew what a single-track was before I knew how to add and subtract. Trails are my dad’s whole life. He works for the Delaware State Parks, so it’s literally his job to love them and want them to be the best that they can be. My family actually lives inside a state park. This has caused me to take trails for granted my whole life. Want to go for a nice wilderness hike? Just walk out the front door. People who visit my house for the first time always remind me that my life is exceptionally unusual. “You’re so lucky!” They say. “I would kill to live here.”
That doesn’t mean that I necessarily always love “getting my trails on”. I suppose it is perhaps in the nature of a child to want to do exactly the opposite of what your parents want to do. I certainly think they’re a great aspect of what we’ve done to the outdoors, and I’m glad that they get people outside and getting vitamin D and such.
But sometimes I stop, and think, trails-- the outdoors-- are pretty amazing. They lead us to breath-taking beauty-- they surround us in it. My family goes on mountain hikes all of the time, and they are tough. I arrive at the top sweaty, out of breath, and in dire need of a nap. But I don’t even mind, because everything around me is green, and the breeze is blowing, and I look out at all these wonderful lakes, with boats that look no bigger than a leaf. I see all this and I think nothing could possibly be more beautiful.
I’m still not sure exactly what trails mean to me. I’m not sure I ever will. It is hard for me to articulate exactly the impact that they’ve had on my life. They certainly are not my whole life, but, being around trails has made me who I am today. Nothing can change this fact, and I am happy with that.
I walked across the U.S. in 2016 to promote building a recreation trail in my home county in California. I was amazed by the number and quality of trails in towns in every state and by how local people treasured them. Trails unite communities, stimulate economic growth, enhance public health, and bolster property value. I met the greatest, most inspirational people everywhere I went and I'll never forget them. Trails add to the quality of life for everyone.
Trails are how my husband and I first started dating. We would go explore a nature preserve or rails to trails site. It led to my first career as an environmental educator as well. Now a family of 4 humans plus dogs we still explore trails for exercise, family time, and nature relaxation.
With the hustle & bustle of working two jobs, this veteran enjoys getting out on the Weiser River Trail whenever I get the chance. It is one of the few natural re-synchronization things a person can do, riding 30 miles from New Meadows, Idaho to Council, Idaho, or continue onward the full 45 miles passing up old towns, hot springs, and enjoying the splendor of nature's bounty.
Last year I rode the Weiser River Trail on a TerraTrike Rover i8 model, all human powered. I love this trike, as it gives your views you cannot see on a normal MTB. You look forward and up, seeing more, enjoying more, and one can absorb more of nature's beauty.
As a disabled veteran events like these gives hope and something to look forward to each year! That one chance to GET AWAY!!
I am immensely glad for our great American Trails!
Our family plays together and hikes together on public trails wherever we go. We seek out new adventures and create new stories every time we trek along a trail. Our favorite places to explore near home are Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Panthertown Valley. Thank you for all that you do American Trails!
Hiking and being out in nature pretty much saved my life. I went through a rough patch when I was a young single mother. I felt overwhelmed by life; trying to take care of my family. I was depressed, having panic attacks, and was at my lowest point ever. I draw positive energy from the earth, and hiking on trails and being in nature takes me back to my essence. It's where I find the core of my existence. I now teach my eight grandchildren all I can about nature, saving our planet, and feeling their connection to the earth while immersing themselves in nature, whether it's in the forest, the desert, or the beach.
Trails are an important resource, but sadly we are increasingly seeing trails abused by littering and vandalism. American Trails has created a packet to teach kids to be great trail stewards so the next generation of trail lovers can help lead the way towards better care for our trails.
Promoting physical activity among children and adults is a priority national health objective in the United States. Regular physical activity lowers the risk of chronic diseases and is an important strategy for reversing the obesity epidemic.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the creation of nature-rich urban environments, including schoolyards with natural play spaces and gardens, can help improve physical and mental health, cognitive skills, creativity, and social bonding.
The phenomena of thru-hiking has been on a dramatic rise, spurring hikers to venture onto increasingly remote and challenging trails over extended periods of time. Despite the recent popularity of thru-hiking, the field remains relatively unstudied. In recreation, the expectations held beforehand have been linked to perceptions after an activity, but this has not been explored in thru-hiking.