Celebrating Trails Across America

Stories from trail enthusiasts of all ages

by Taylor Goodrich, Communication and Media Specialist, American Trails

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.

Brynna Bartoo, Age 15, Delaware

"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." -- Brynna Bartoo, Delaware

"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." -- Brynna Bartoo, Delaware

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.

Jim Ostdick, Author of Palomino Nation, California

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.

Kate W Peterman, Business Owner, Wisconsin

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.

James Miller, Veteran, Idaho

"I am immensely glad for our great American Trails!" -- James Miller, Idaho

"I am immensely glad for our great American Trails!" -- James Miller, Idaho

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!

Jason Kimenker, Father, North Carolina

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!

Linda Clements Bedford, Grandmother, California

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.

About the Author

Taylor Goodrich started with American Trails in January 2018 as Communication and Media Specialist. Taylor has worked with the National Recreation Trail (NRT) Ambassadors since the beginning of the program and has helped shape the program to where it is today. Taylor currently lives in Dallas, Texas, which is also where she grew up and where she attended the University of North Texas receiving her degree in History. While in college she started doing freelance work editing and writing, and also got into graphic design and discovered she loves the creativity and craft of digital arts. After college she traveled quite a bit, and lived in both the Pacific Northwest and in New Mexico, and while in both of those places took full advantage of what the outdoors had to offer. After moving back to Texas she started moving towards doing graphic design, social media, and communications work full time, and she has contracted with several companies from tech startups, to music festivals, to law firms, to grow their social media and digital communications presence. Taylor loves hiking and kayaking especially, and is glad to be working with an organization that fights for further accessibility and stewardship of our nation’s trails. She feels very lucky that in this position she will be able to use her professional skills and passion for something she is also very personally passionate about, and in helping to grow American Trails.

Contact: [email protected]

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