Saturday is National Trails Day

American Discovery Trail. Photo by Jesse Speer, Courtesy USFS.

Saturday, June 6, is American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®. It shines a light on the wonderful trail opportunities we have in this country — and encourages Americans to help maintain them.

The National Trails System contains tens of thousands of miles, with segments in every state and the nation’s capital. Click here for a list of the trails in the system or here to see a PDF map of the system.

The best known is the Appalachian Trail, which runs 2,175 miles through 14 states from Maine to Georgia. The AT was the brainchild of Wilderness Society founder Benton MacKaye. Over the years we have urged Congress to appropriate money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to acquire parcels in the trail corridor so that they were not developed.

We have teamed up with partners in North Carolina to protect the views that hikers in the Smokies see as they gaze to the east. Two tracts of land there face development if they are not acquired by the U.S. Forest Service.

We are also working with the Appalachian Mountain Club to conserve lands through the Highlands Conservation Act, which is funded through LWCF, in order to extend the 150-mile Highlands Trail in New York and New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

You can help these initiatives succeed by urging your representatives on Capitol Hill to support full funding of LWCF.

Hikers on Florida National Scenic Trail. Courtesy USFS.Trail lovers had a lot to celebrate in March. The national system grew by 5,000 miles when Congress passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, the bill that also added two million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The American Hiking Society, a leader in trails protection, says, “Not since the National Park System was created in 1916 has a single action of Congress had a greater positive impact on the hiking experience.”

The new trails include:

About 6,000 miles of the national system can be found in the National Landscape Conservation System. These include the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and an important section of the Potomac Heritage National Historic Trail.

Another group that makes a major contribution to the nation’s trails is the Student Conservation Association. Each year thousands of students, representing the diversity of the U.S. population, are put in national parks, forests, and other public spots to build, maintain, and improve pathways.

National Trails Day is the day that those of who enjoy trails can give back by picking up a saw, clearing some brush, or repainting a blaze.

Anyone who wants to be part of the 17th annual National Trails Day can get details at the American Hiking Society’s Web site:

American Discovery Trail. Photo by Jesse Speer, Courtesy USFS.
Hikers on Florida National Scenic Trail. Courtesy USFS.