Five for Friday: National Trails Day and More

Black Hills Regional Park, May 2018
Kayaks on the water at Black Hills Regional Park in May

1. I’d like to start by posting a note of gratitude for the many easily accessible parks in Maryland. While parts of the state are most certainly being overdeveloped, there is still, for now anyway, an abundance of public land for enjoyment of the outdoors.

Black Hills Regional Park, May 2018
Morning walk at Black Hills Regional Park

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s right in front of you. Having traveled (to a very limited degree) out west and far up the east coast, I don’t think much can beat cliff-side views of the ocean or the sight of a long, spiny ridge of mountains that stretches as far as the eye can see. So it’s important to me to remember that grandeur isn’t everything, and often there is little better than a morning at a nearby park. Last weekend we spent one morning at Black Hills Regional Park, and I couldn’t have asked for more than the sunny day, blue water, and quiet trails provided.

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2. June 2 is the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. Admittedly, I don’t intend much hiking myself tomorrow, as the day is expected to be a washout, and according to the AHS website, some of their events may be cancelled in the event of heavy rain. Nevertheless, it’s a good day to take note of the many trails and hiking opportunities that abound, to consider how you can help improve the spaces you enjoy. Even if you don’t participate in an event tomorrow, you may find an organization listed on the AHS site that hosts events you’d like to be part of in the future.

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3. One key aspect of National Trails Day is the maintenance of trails. This seems like a good time to take note of the seven principles of Leave No Trace:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

If you already abide by these, awesome. If not, they’re definitely worth learning more about, and you can do that here.

Bonus challenge: See how you can incorporate these into life off the trail! (Well, the campfire impacts doesn’t apply, hopefully, and I’m not sure about the camping part, but you can definitely achieve the others in daily life!)

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4. Since it is National Trails Day tomorrow, here’s a good related read: On Trails, by Robert Moor.


The book begins with discussion of the earliest possible trails, those found in fossils and created by Ediacarans, soft-bodied creatures from over 550 million year ago. Later, Moor discusses better-known trails, like the Appalachian, as well as his own walking and that of others. His tales are interwoven with history, philosophy, science, and nature writing. Moor observes that while humans may view wilderness romantically, it is the trail that allows for such a view. After all, without knowing where you’re going, you may just be lost, and nature’s strength will take no pity. He writes:

“Pathless wildernesses still exist in the modern world, and at least some have retained the power to elicit dread. I have visited one such place. It lay on the northern rim of a glacial fjord called Western Brook Pond, on the island of Newfoundland, in Canada’s easternmost province. If you want to be taught (however harshly) the blessing of a well marked trail, go there.”

When he veers off and then relocates the trail there, Moor writes, “The trail, however rough, would return me to the human realm. Delivered from chaos, I promptly forgot my former terror, fell in love with the earth anew, and once again desired to walk every inch of it.”

Taken as a whole, it provides insight into the vital role of trails in animal and human development, even as new digital trails are created today.

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5. A poem. 

The Mountain Road Ends Here, G.E. Patterson











And that’s it. Where will you walk this week? Wherever you go, happy trails to you!


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