Thursday, January 18, 2018

North Country Trail Hiking Challenge

In 2016, the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) hosted a hiking challenge: everyone who completed 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail within the year would receive a commemorative patch and certificate. The specific mileage was chosen to honor the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service.

Living nearby the NCNST, which is coincident with the Buckeye Trail through much of Ohio, I decided to give it a go. I got my miles done in mid-December and earned my patch, but I often felt guilty for ditching the wife and kids just to achieve my goal.

The next year, the NCTA renewed the challenge and we decided to tackle it together as a family. By the end of 2017, we had racked up a grand total of 13 miles. No patches for us!

2018 brings a new anniversary and a new pair of hiking challenges. 50 years ago, President Johnson signed the National Trails System Act, which allowed for the creation of long-distance gems such as the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, numerous National Historic Trails, and of course the longest of them all, the 4600 mile North Country Trail.

This year's challenges on the NCT include a 50-miler and a 100-miler. They run concurrently, so if you complete your 100 miles on the trail, you get both patches! I don't know yet how much I'll bring the kids along this year, but I'm certainly going for the prize.

While much of the NCT/Buckeye Trail nearest to me is paved, I may also seek out some natural surface trails to coincide with the 52 Hike Challenge. Outdoor multitasking at its finest!

Are you up for the task? As the NCTA says, Your Adventure Starts Nearby. Sign up for the challenge here and see you on the trail!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

52 Hike Challenge

The new year bends our thoughts and actions toward fresh starts, often with some type of physical improvement in mind.

A fellow blogger of the outdoors recently posted about the 52 Hike Challenge. The organizers of the challenge encourage people to get outside and discover the nature nearby, whether urban or wilderness.

At its core, the 52 Hike Challenge dares participants to average one hike a week for a year, although the "rules" are very loose. Tracking logs and a list of trails in each state are available on the 52 Hike website; free registration is required to access the resources.

Neil Brennen at A Taste for the Woods has proposed his own parameters for what qualifies as a "hike": minimum distance of one mile, minimum duration of 45 minutes, and natural surface trails only.

I like the one-mile and dirt path requirements; many of the trails around Cincinnati are paved, so finding my way to natural surfaces will take a little effort. I think the duration can be left open-ended: different folks participate differently in the outdoors, so I'm not sure a time limit makes much a difference. Hike your own hike, as the saying goes.

I'm in for the challenge; how about you? What qualifies as a hike in your mind?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Great Miami River Recreation Trail: First Steps

Stretching 75 miles through southwestern Ohio, the Great Miami River Recreation Trail offers outdoor recreation opportunities for trail users of all abilities. The trail extends from Fairfield through Hamilton and Dayton north to Piqua, paralleling its namesake river and Interstate 75. There are two gaps in the trail in Butler County, but plenty of enjoyment can be had while waiting for the final connections to be made.

For our first posts of 2018, we'll spotlight the GMRRT near Hamilton. With multiple trailheads and inviting parklands adjacent to the trail, everyone can find a great outdoor experience along the banks of the Great Miami River.

Our first trip on the Great Miami River Recreation Trail steps off from the trail’s current southern terminus in Fairfield’s Waterworks Park and heads north to Joyce Park in Hamilton.