National Trails Day: The North Country Trail Association
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® first began in 1993 to highlight the importance of the National Trails System, and to enhance its quality and accessibility for the general public. By encouraging partnerships with outdoor organizations, agencies, and trail groups, National Trails Day succeeds in uniting the larger trail community behind the common cause of demonstrating the tremendous value in America’s trails. The North Country Trail Association, for example, has celebrated National Trails Day since the mid-nineties and continues to work with agencies and other local organizations every year to bring awareness to the North Country National Scenic Trail and the many recreation opportunities it offers.
For many NCTA chapters, National Trails Day marks the kickoff of the hiking season on the North Country Trail. According to Peter Nordgren of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter, “We do have some events earlier in the spring, but National Trails Day is our first big splash. NTD gives our trail chapter the opportunity to be part of a bigger event across the trail community. It’s also a brand to which we can attach an early-season event that attracts both new trail users and current members.”
Many of the NCTA’s National Trails Day events are arranged through partnerships between local NCTA Chapters and the land management agencies responsible for segments of the NCT (e.g. State Parks). Matthew Davis, NCTA’s Regional Trail Coordinator explains,
“It is good to point out to our partners that there is significant interest in the NCT and attendance at NTD events is a great way to demonstrate that interest. For some of our events, the land managers have even participated alongside our volunteers and the public.
In 2013, we hosted a Grand Opening event for a new 20-mile segment of the NCT here in northwestern Minnesota. The event was held at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and it drew over 200 participants and attracted media coverage from State-wide media (e.g. Minnesota Public Radio). It was a perfect venue for celebrating the partnership that went into the new segment of the NCT. Representatives from County, State, and Federal government agencies were there beside the NCTA and our local Chapter volunteers.
The North Country Trail Association benefits from the local exposure and outreach to new people. We have attracted more members, volunteers, and trail supporters. I think our participation in NTD events shows that we are a highly committed volunteer organization interested in getting more people outside to enjoy our trail and nature in general.”
National Trails Day event registration is open to any and all organizations interested in promoting increased trail use and/or stewardship as important community objectives. If you are part of a group or organization that would like to host a National Trails Day event, please visit www.NationalTrailsDay.org for further details.