Get Active on the Trails!

Farah AnwarNPF Blog

Our national parks offer plenty of outdoor activities that are both fun and good for your health! The Active Trails program promotes healthy living by getting people of all ages out and active on the trails -- whether hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing or even yoga and horseback riding. Parks encourage visitors to learn about the activities and opportunities to exercise in our national parks and the overall health benefits of exercising.

Two happy, young children riding horses and waving to camera

At Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 1,500 visitors participated in their Recreation Fest at Paramount Ranch.  Kids and families had the opportunity to partake in a variety of activities including rock-climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, arts and crafts, and a one-mile fun run for children and families. Essex National Heritage Area also held several events including five fun races and their annual signature event – Trails & Sails. The event included guided hikes, sailing opportunities, historical tours, and other active adventures.

Multiple young children running in the Essex YMCA Race

By partnering with a health professional Buffalo National River was able to engage visitors and provide tangible connections between human health and outdoor recreation at their park. A cardiologist attended all of the events at Buffalo National River and gave a comprehensive talk to participants about using parks for health and wellness as well as the benefits of park-specific exercise including hiking and canoeing.

Next time you try a yoga class, check out your local national park. Wheeling National Heritage Area hosted a “Yoga on the Lawn” event as part of its health activities with great attendance. Visitors were encouraged to think of unique ways of using the trails and park resources, such as practicing yoga on the grassy areas that border the trails. The park also hosted dog walks and bike rides. They were also attuned to the needs of their visitors finding out from the biking community that “something like a ‘cycle aid station’ to be placed every so many miles on the trail for emergency fixes for bike riders” would be beneficial to visitors. The park is also planning a regional bike safety and trail safety workshop for visitors.

Participants practicing yoga at Wheeling National Heritage Site

These are just a few of the parks that had incredible results getting community members outdoors and active in parks, deepening connections with local communities, strengthening partnerships, and inspiring the next generation of park visitors and supporters. Last year, the Active Trails program reached over 50,000 people through 575 events around healthy activities. The 2015 program was made possible by the generous support of our partners The Coca-Cola Company and Subaru of America.

Parks offer tons of health and fitness activities to get you outdoors and educate visitors on healthy living and other park resources. Help us support programs that encourage people to get outdoors and be healthy in our national parks.

Photo credits: National Park Service, and Dawn Kish

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