Hiking is one of the oldest and most popular pastimes in the world. It’s a chance to get up close and personal with your land, to feel its substance and its shape under your feet, and to experience its beauty in every season. It strengthens our bodies and, as more and more research is showing, our minds too—all at little to no cost. So, if you’re fortunate to have woodlands under your care, consider developing a trail or trail system on it, or linking it to the network of local, regional and national scenic, historic and recreational trails that are already drawing people outdoors.
Trails help you connect to your land in two main ways. First, they unleash the recreational potential of your land for hiking, running, birdwatching, hunting, horse riding, cycling or skiing. Second, they also make it easier to monitor woodland conditions and identify problems. What’s more, trails that are open to the public tend to build community and increase local property values.
But the greatest benefits of trails is perhaps their impact on the environment. By connecting people and their families to nature, they help instill an ethic of conservation that can last for generations. As one generation after another acts to preserve this natural heritage, they contribute to health of the plants and wildlife that depend on the woods and help improve local air and water quality.
The American Forest Foundation developed the pages in this guide to help you design, build and maintain hiking trails, and to keep you and your family safe while doing it. Done right, these trails will help you share your love of the land with others, and ensure that your forest stays healthy and beautiful for years to come.
Hiking your land:
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