According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Forester Research (2013), each year Americans age 15 and over spend an average of 3,176 hours sleeping, 648 hours doing household chores, 1,022 hours watching television, and 676 hours online (for those of us who use the internet). Come the first weekend in June every year, however, you’ll find that several thousand Connecticut residents decide to allocate a few of their precious hours a little differently—to celebrating trails. Over 200 volunteer event leaders and organizers come together to lead the largest trails celebration in the nation, offering hiking, biking, paddling, letterboxing, trail work parties, equestrian rides, and trail experiences of all kinds. It’s a grassroots effort with Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) at the helm, rallying outdoor enthusiasts to lead events, devoting resources to the creation and distribution of the annual Connecticut Trails Weekend Booklet, supplying leaders with t-shirts and planning materials, and promoting the celebration throughout the state.
The Connecticut Trails Weekend celebration is part of National Trails Day® (NTD), a nationwide hiking initiative established by the American Hiking Society in 1993. Trails Day encourages the public and outdoor enthusiasts nationwide to seek out their favorite trails while participating in numerous events held in each state. CFPA has been coordinating Connecticut’s participation since NTD began. In 2014, our celebration featured 269 trail events in 143 towns. Connecticut may be the third smallest state in the nation, but it’s big on enthusiasm for trails. Connecticut Trails Weekend is like New Year’s Eve in June, thousands of people from all backgrounds, ages, abilities, and interests come together with a simple, united goal in mind—to celebrate trails.
Trails and CT Trails Weekend mean something different to everyone. For a child, trail experiences are ones that will inspire for a lifetime of stewardship. Others enjoy the sense of community the celebration brings. This unique tradition has become a way for people of all walks of life to come together and truly appreciate the natural gifts around us. Every year, the Connecticut Trails Weekend inspires thousands of Nutmeggers to participate in activities that emphasize the importance of nature, promote healthy living and mental well-being, and instill excitement for the outdoors. The success of the celebration would not be possible without strong participation by many volunteer event leaders and organizations. Long-time partners like the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), land trusts, town agencies, educational groups, libraries, outdoors-oriented businesses, and many dedicated financial sponsors all help to make this annual event a success.
No matter why people are inspired to take part in this annual celebration, there is no doubt that all involved agree that time spent on trails is time well spent. Next time the first weekend in June rolls around, we hope you will consider devoting some of your time to celebrating trails with us.