It’s almost Opening Day — for local outdoor trails

Winding through the woods or meandering through the metropolitan landscape, the expansive network of local trails provides recreational opportunities for everyone from hard-core hikers to casual cyclists.

April 7 marks the Rails to Trails Conservancy Opening Day for Trails, a nationwide celebration in its sixth year. The Conservancy’s mission is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connect corridors “to build healthier places for healthier people.”

“Opening Day is our way of saying, it’s spring, it’s nice out, let’s get out on the trails,” said Brian Housh, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Midwest policy manager. “It’s about raising awareness that we’ve got this great trail system that is getting more accessible all the time.”

The nationwide celebration will be marked by special events – large and small –across the state and around the country.

Bike Miami Valley is sponsoring one such opening day event at Wesleyan MetroPark’s Adventure Central.

“We want to highlight and share what our communities have to offer,” said Emmy Fabich, Bike Miami Valley program manager. “Our trails are such a great amenity.”

The trails take center stage in 2018 as this year has also been designated as Ohio’s “Year of the Trails” by state legislators in conjunction with the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus.

7 Ways to Celebrate Opening Day for Trails on April 7

1. Walk, hike or bike: The Miami Valley region has more than 340 miles of paved, multi-use recreational trails – the largest paved trail network in the country. From peaceful country roads to vibrant urban cityscapes, there is so much to explore.

2. Start your adventure at Adventure Central: For Dayton families, Adventure Central at Wesleyan MetroPark, 2222 N. James H McGee Blvd., is the place to be on April 7 from 1-3 p.m. as there will be a variety of fun, free, family-friendly activities.

3. Participate in an Ohio kickoff event: From Yellow Springs and Xenia to Columbus and Cleveland, there is a full slate of kickoff activities to choose from. For a list of events around the state and across the country, visit www.railstotrails.org/openingday.

4. Visit a Trail Town: The region boasts several designated Buckeye Trail “trail towns” which offer a variety of unique amenities including independently owned restaurants, craft breweries and shops. There are also numerous historical landmarks and recreational opportunities along the way. Area trail towns include Dayton, Yellow Springs, Troy, Piqua and Xenia.

5. Family play day: Load up the kids and hit the trails for a fun family hike or bike ride. Studies show that, beyond the physical benefits, spending time outdoors also improves mood.

6. Special time with your special someone: Strolling hand-in-hand along the riverbank or enjoying the sunset after an early evening ride, trail time can very well be date time. And with a variety of restaurants and watering holes near the trails, you can also add in a romantic dinner for two while you’re at it.

7. Head off the beaten path: Trails aren’t just for hiking – think bridle trails and waterways. So, if you’d prefer to travel by horseback or kayak, Opening Day can be the ideal time to grab the reins or paddle.

For more information, check out the Rails to Trails Conservancy on Facebook.

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