National Trails Day June 5:
WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the designation of 31 trails in 15 states as national recreation trails, adding more than 716 miles of trails to the National Trails System. The announcement comes in anticipation of National Trails Day on June 5, when trail dedications and other activities will take place at new and existing trails.
“From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the great outdoors,” said Salazar. “These new national recreation trails, built through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, will create new opportunities for fitness and stewardship while creating a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.”
In announcing the new designations, Salazar highlighted two important initiatives established by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage Americans to enjoy the great outdoors as part of a healthier lifestyle.
Last month, President Obama launched the “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative” to protect special places and to help Americans reconnect to the outdoors. Under his leadership, the administration is reaching out to communities across the country to hear good ideas about conservation and to learn about the efforts that ordinary Americans are making to conserve our land, water, and wildlife. More information on the initiative can be found at http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors.
Meanwhile, the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative is promoting a healthier lifestyle for children by encouraging them to eat healthier foods and become more physically active.
“I hope that millions of Americans will take advantage of the opportunities provided by our national trails to embrace a fuller, healthier lifestyle,”
Every national park will waive entrance fees on the weekend of June 5-6 to help encourage people of all ages to get outside and use trails for exercise and exploration. In addition, hundreds of organized activities including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications will take place. A listing of activities is available at http://www.americanhiking.org/Get-Involved/National-Trails-Day/.
The national recreation trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation. The first ones were established in 1971.
Each of the trails will receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Secretary Salazar, and national recreation trail markers. The trails join a network of more than 1,000 previously designated trails that total more than 12,500 miles.
The national recreation trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website at http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails.
The following trails have been designated as national recreation trails in Alabama:
Canoe and Kayak Trail Limestone County Alabama The beautiful Elk River is the perfect place for canoeing and kayaking in Limestone County. It is a Class-1 stream, with views of forests, towering bluffs, and rolling meadows. The water is challenging and the scenery is beautiful. The Canoe and Kayak Trail begins at Elkmont and ends at Wilson Lake at Joe Wheeler State Park. The route is 21.9 miles along scenic Elk River with five easy in-and-out points. Since the creation of the water trail, small businesses have emerged to support this recreational resource and increase economic opportunities in surrounding communities.
Doc Hilt Trails Doc Hilt Trails is a private off road recreational trails area and camping facility located just north of Lineville, Alabama, on the eastern edge of the Talladega National Forest. The Doc Hilt Trails system consists of approximately 15 miles of continuous trails for ATVs, dirt bikes and OHV enthusiasts. The area includes hilly and mountainous terrain with trailside primitive camping. Doc Hilt Trails is dedicated to affordable, rustic and responsible recreational family-oriented trail riding for 4 wheelers and off-road motorcycles. The trail system was created by collaborative efforts between private land owners and the Cheaha Trail Riders Association.
The Eastern Shore Trail The Eastern Shore Trail is a 36-mile multi-purpose trail for pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle use along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, Alabama. The trail traverses waterfront, historic, wilderness and small town areas, both off- road and paralleling roads. Because of the wide variation in grade, elevated boardwalks and high-rise bridges, both wooden and metal, are common components. The most significant product of this trail effort is the demonstrated support garnered by Baldwin County volunteers. As one trailside resident says, “The trail is our front porch… where we connect with friends and neighbors.”
Minooka Park Trail System Located in central Alabama, Minooka Park features 25 miles of trails. Some are specifically designed and constructed for ATV’s and off road motorcycles. The dirt bike enthusiast looking for more technical trails can check out miles of single track. Horseback riders can choose from trails featuring beautiful views, creeks, and the opportunity to see wildlife.
Hikers have wooded nature trails and a one mile walking trail around Lake Minooka. The walking trail around the lake, along with five fishing piers and a large deck overlooking the lake, is handicap accessible.
The Richard Martin Trail Richard Martin led a 25-year effort with volunteers and various community organizations to establish a continuous 10.2 mile, rails-to-trails bicycle, equestrian, and pedestrian trail in Limestone County, Alabama. The Richard Martin Trail accesses outstanding natural, cultural, and historic resources. Natural features include beautiful wetlands and flora and fauna that are indigenous to the Tennessee Valley. A historic site on the trail marks the bloodiest Civil War battle on Alabama soil, the Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle.
Smith Lake Park Walking/Bike Trails Smith Lake Park is a 150-acre park owned and operated by the Cullman County Commission. The park’s 3.5 miles of walking and biking trails give campers, day-visitors, and residents an opportunity to exercise while viewing forested areas and the lake. Single track bike trails are one way to enjoy exercising with safety in mind. A special, short bike trail for children near the main playground allows younger children to ride their bikes while still remaining completely within view of their parents.
Sportsman Lake Trails Sportsman Lake Park is a scenic destination located in downtown Cullman, Alabama. The shady 5 miles of bike/walking trails provide opportunities for walkers, novice bike riders, in-line skaters, mountain bikers, and participants in bike and cross country events to enjoy the park and its 28-acre lake.
Stony Lonesome OHV Park Trail System Stony Lonesome OHV Park, located in Cullman County, Alabama, offers 150 miles of trails for hiking, mountain bikes, dirt bikes, ATVs, Rock Crawlers, and horseback riding. The 1500-acre park’s topography includes rolling hills, steep inclines, wetlands, and flowing streams. The trail system has attracted tremendous interest and support from trail enthusiasts. It is the culmination of efforts by the County and community leaders in planning, land acquisition, and trail development.
Veterans Park Trail The 4.8-mile Veterans Park Trail in the City of Hoover connects a middle school, high school, community college, a 2-acre lake, park amenities, recreation areas, two playgroun
ds, and a large veteran’s memorial which is the focal point of the 82-acre park. The multi-use nature, running, and boardwalk trail winds though diverse open fields, wetlands and forested areas. A connector tunnel allows use of the full length of the trail without having to cross a road. The trail provides many opportunities for individual fitness programs for all ages and is used as a cross-country running course for major events.