With the holidays rapidly approaching, many casual hikers are slowing down and prepping their gear for a long winters' nap. For some of us other hikers however, the holidays mean long weekends and time to spend out on the trail. Many others fall into a place somewhere between - not quite retiring all their gear for the season, but not ready to spend all their free time out on the trail during the cooler winter months. Since this time of year is about giving, I'd like to talk about ways you can give back to the trail for the holidays - maybe in a way you never thought about!
Take Someone Hiking
It's my opinion that the best thing we can do for any trail system is to help make other people aware of it's mere existence! Helping friends and family members discover a trail can lead to a love of hiking or trekking, which in turn helps the trail. How, you may ask? When other people learn about a trail they're more inclined to take care of it. Learning a trail is nearby means you take pride in that trail, you share your positive experiences with others, and that helps spread the love even more by word of mouth. Sharing a trail with someone is a super easy thing to do!
A Group Cleanup
Head out to a trail with a few friends and make a friendly competition out of the day. Have everyone take extra gallon-sized Ziplock bags and have rewards for those who pick up the most trash, weirdest item, or even the biggest item. Picking up microtrash (small items like the tabs off a candy bar wrapper or a plastic water bottle lid) really add up quick!
Donate to a Trail Conservancy
If you have a long distance trail in your neck of the woods, add them to your charitable giving this winter. If you don't have a trail near you, donate to a local park or outdoors organization. Preserving the outdoors for the public to enjoy is a gift that keeps on giving!
Sign Up for Trail Maintenance
While some maintaining jobs require licenses (like operating a chainsaw), many trail and outing clubs encourage any and everyone to come out and help. Find out when your local club goes out for trail maintaining and sign up! Not only will you meet new people, you'll help out and give back to a trail system local to you.
These are just a few ideas you can try to give back to a trail system or park near you. Have you ever participated in a trail cleanup? Do you like to share nature with others?