The outdoors are calling out to us, telling us this is the perfect time for a hike — it is National Trails Day after all, which is celebrated only on the first Saturday in June of each year, falling on June 4 this year. Organized by the American Hiking Society, this event aims to bring together all trail enthusiasts, young and old, while honoring those who help maintain and preserve hiking trails for everyone to enjoy.
History of National Trails Day
The history of National Trails Day stretches back almost 50 years. Back then, there were no government-mandated trails for walking and other leisure activities. This changed when President Lyndon B. Johnson made a law, which established trails that people could use for recreation (and tourism too). This system saw much change over the years, with local authorities and organizations adding to the network of trails. With each new organization dedicated to hiking and outdoor activities, more and more incentives to expand the existing trails became available to people.
Until now, private entities have been expanding on the governmental law, but soon, a presidential task force concluded that more was needed to be done to expand the trails and safeguard the environment. This report tasked federal authorities with providing funds to local authorities and officials to help them develop and maintain pathways in their regions. The American Hiking Society, which by then was a big name in the world of hiking, decided it needed to devise a scheme to further incentivize people to take up volunteering and activities to maintain and enjoy the country’s hiking trails, and thus, they launched National Trails Day, which has been running ever since.
National Trails Day timeline
President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes an official network of trails across America that can be used for recreation and tourism.
An official hiking organization is created, which begins hosting meetings and thinking up new initiatives to increase interest in hiking.
President Ronald Reagan signs an executive order, the Presidential Commission on Outdoor Recreation Resources Review, to conduct a thorough review of America's outdoor recreation services.
The Presidential Commission on Outdoor Recreation Resources Review, now called the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors, calls for more outdoor commitment from the government for protection and funding.
A cooperative venture is undertaken between the National Park Service and American Trails to look at trail-based issues and to provide recommendations that satisfy America's need for trails.
The American Hiking Society comes up with a program to highlight the importance of trails and dubs it 'National Trails Day.'
The American Hiking Society launches the first National Trails Day, with hundreds of organizations participating — this day has been celebrated ever since.
National Trails Day FAQs
What day is National Take a Hike Day?
November 17 of each year is celebrated as National Take a Hike Day. This day gets you to exercise by traipsing about on trails around America.
How many National Scenic Trails are there?
There are a total of 11 National Scenic Trails within the National Trails System. These are all long-distance and recreational.
What are the three major hiking trails in the U.S.?
The three major long-distance hiking trails in the U.S. are the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.
How To Celebrate National Trails Day
Participate in special events
Throughout the U.S., the American Hiking Society branches and various private organizations host multiple events and activities to celebrate hiking and promote awareness about the trails you can use. So grab a friend (two- or four-legged) and set out on a little hike around your local trail.
Do more than hike
Hiking trails are for more than simply hiking. These trails offer plenty of recreational opportunities for those who don’t like hiking. They also offer excellent opportunities for birdwatching and activities like canoeing or paddle trips, and, of course, most trails can be used for biking as well.
Show appreciation to volunteers
These pristine trails and pathways have been maintained by a group of volunteers. So let’s take a moment to appreciate their efforts. You can even celebrate these efforts by sharing your appreciation on social media. You would not only be honoring these volunteers but you would also be building interest in hiking too! Another way to show your appreciation would be to become a volunteer yourself. Check out the Appalachian Trail Conservatory or other organizations just like it that are responsible for maintaining hiking trails and find out if there is anything you can do to help.
Fun Facts About National Trails Day
The 20th-anniversary rush!
A whopping 157,000 people participated in the 20th Annual National Trails Day events on June 2, 2012, held across the U.S.
There are so many trails!
America boasts around 200,000 miles of trails all over the country.
There’s one standout trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail — commonly called the Appalachian Trail or A.T. — receives about two million visits each year.
Buying a house? Look for a trail
According to the American Hiking Society, in 2008, prospective home buyers looked for trial availability while buying houses.
People still love to hike
The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) trends in 2012 showed participation rates have increased in the first decade of the 21st century.
Why We Love National Trails Day
We get to explore nature
National Trails Day is a great big celebration of the outdoors. In a time when all most of us usually see is a giant corporate jungle, hiking is a wonderful and refreshing pastime for us. We get to visit places where nature still reigns supreme, which is a brilliant way to spend our time.
Hiking (and outdoorsy activities) are healthy
Going on a quick (or long) hike instantly gets your blood pumping. Even if you are not into hiking as an activity, outdoor aficionados can enjoy many more activities in areas with hiking trails, each of which have their own health benefits. Plus, being in nature is a giant stress buster and good for the soul. If this isn’t enough to convince you, spending time outdoors and in nature is a known aid for non-clinical depression and a great way to restore mental- and physical faculties.
It is a great bonding activity
These trails are truly for everyone. It offers young children a place to safely run around outside, a breath of fresh air for anyone who needs it, and a chance for the elderly to admire some wildflowers... There is no competition here, no apps or distractions. It’s just you, your loved ones, and, on some trails, your pets too. Happy bonding!
National Trails Day dates