Take a hike on National Trails Day this Saturday

National Trails Day, an annual event put on by the American Hiking Society, will hold its 24th observation June 4. Both Shenandoah National Park and Shenandoah River State Park have events planned.

The idea behind National Trails Day is to have a nationwide celebration on the first Saturday of June to unite people around open spaces and trails, said Wesley Trimble, program outreach and communications manager for the Silver Springs, Maryland-based American Hiking Society.

“Pretty much anything that is muscle powered can be considered a National Trails Day event,” he said. “We also promote our stewardship and trail maintenance as well. We target any sort of open space from local parks to national parks and everything in between.”

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club will be leading events in Shenandoah National Park from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 4, said Rush Williamson, the club’s supervisor of activities.

“We have an information booth, if you will, at Big Meadows,” said Williamson. “We have a number of short hikes anywhere from a mile and a half to a max of four miles that we take them. They’re short hikes within that area that we will be leading. Most of the hikes are family hikes, in other words, children from around 7 years old and above can go on them.”

Shenandoah National Park is one of the club’s 47 land partners, said Williamson, adding that the club is responsible for the maintenance of several trails in the park.

“We maintain 240 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Pine Grove Furnace up in Pennsylvania all the way down to Rockfish Gap,” he said. “Plus, we maintain about another 900 miles of trails. That’s one of our main missions, is trails. Shenandoah National Park is one of our land partners. We maintain 300 miles of trail in addition to the AT there, so it’s kind of a natural fit with us.”

The National Trails Day activities in Shenandoah National Park are free. Those who attend need only pay the park’s admission fee.

Williamson shared Trimble’s enthusiasm for National Trails Day.

“It’s the country’s largest celebration of trails and they do something to try to increase awareness of the trails just like this,” he said. “We try to let people know what resources are out there so they can enjoy the trails.”

Also on June 4, Shenandoah River State Park will be participating in a joint effort by combining National Trails Day with Clean the Bay Day. The event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Jennifer Saik, volunteer coordinator and education specialist with Shenandoah State Park, said they are going to do a trash pickup in their day use and picnic area asw well as on a couple of their most popular trails.

“We’re going to have a contest to see who picks up the most trash and the winner will get either a free tube or kayak trip in the park,” she said.

Saik explained that last year turnout was helped by the Boy and Girl Scouts, but most participants are just passersby and park users who want to help out.

“A lot of our participants are just happening to be in the park that weekend,” said Saik. “They find out that we’re doing these things and they offer to volunteer.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com