Take a hike! Saturday June 2 is National Trails Day.
Outdoor recreation is as important for our well being as it is for our economy. It seems surprising that free hiking trails can help generate more than 10 billion in annual revenue, and that’s just for the National forests and grasslands. Nearly half of the country’s population participates in outdoor recreation from winter sports to summer sun. This creates a thriving industry that is also growing more each year.
While the western states are more known for outdoor recreation since the majority of national public lands (forest, park, and the like) are west of the plains–Michigan is a special place for recreation. Having four distinct seasons really helps. A few statistics from Pure Michigan (which you may have heard recently): four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, 20.3 million acres of forests, 4 national parks, 103 state parks and recreation areas, one of the world’s top freshwater fisheries, 1,300 miles of designated mountain bike and bicycle trails, 6,500 miles of snowmobile trails, the second highest number of ski areas in the nation, more than 600 campgrounds and an international dark sky park. You are probably beginning to see why “outdoor recreation” is a multi-billion dollar industry as many of these activities call for permits and high-end equipment.
For those of us that prefer to stay close to home, this vast list of opportunities is not only good news, but probably one of the reasons you continue to live in this beautiful state. If hiking hasn’t been one of your outdoor activities take National Trails Day as a reason to get out and explore on foot. Maps are easily accessible through different websites, apps, or stop at a DNR or National Forest station to get one of those old-fashion, hard-to-fold-up-once-opened large pieces of paper with contour lines, roads…Contrary to some belief, you don’t need a reason or a goal when you go for a hike. You can hike just to hike, to absorb the fresh air and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind and the birds call and enjoy the spring flowers. Just don’t forget to pack a snack. Happy Trails.
The North Country Trail is a National Scenic Trail stretching from New York to North Dakota, 4,600 miles.