Trail clean up hikes are an amazing way to instill a love of nature in our kids from a very young age. After all, that’s one of Hike it Baby’s main goals, and we are really good at it. We love fostering an amazing global community of families who like to get outdoors and motivating them to get out in a wide array of conditions. Sometimes, being part of that community is also about giving back, to one another, and to the greater communities we are all part of. And of course to the earth. If that sounds a little New Age-y, I’m sorry, but I’m pretty passionate about it.
Everyone can help to keep our trails pristine and in top shape for hikers, wildlife, and everyone who uses the trail. At HiB, we attempt to leave no trace and pack out whatever we pack in. And you know what? Most people are excellent environmental stewards. But things happen, a piece of trash might blow out of a bag, or off a bike. It might even blow right out of your hands and get carried away. And there will always be some people somewhere who don’t take the same pride in a clean trail that we all do.
So, how can you help?
Get involved and host a trail clean up hike! There is no better way to instill the need to pick up your own trash than by picking up someone else’s. Families of all ages can participate. Preschoolers may get a real kick out of helping out. (Then again, being tiny bastions of stubborn independence, they might sit down in the middle of the trail and refuse to move. School age kids can hunt off trail for discarded trash and other items.)
You can host a trail clean up hike anytime, anywhere. There are no guidelines for it, although if you’d like to provide trash bags and plastic gloves, your fellow hikers will thank you.
Clean Up Hike Ideas
- Just do it! If you notice a particularly dirty trail or park, plan a hike. Show up with bags, clean up, and keep it clean. Keep track of your time… it may help you when planning events with your city!
- Make it unofficial. Carry trash bags and gloves in your car and bring some on any hike you already have planned.
- Turn it into an event! Start at a park and fan out into small groups in a variety of directions. Meet back at a designated time, and have a picnic! In the hike description, make note that a picnic is planned after, so bring a blanket and food for yourselves, and if you want, bring something to share.
- Make it official! Want to get involved on a higher level? Reach out to your city’s Parks and Recreation department to find out how you can help. In Anchorage, there’s a volunteer coordinator who manages the Adopt-A-Trail program. Your city may have something similar that provides bags and gloves. Ours asks us to keep track of our hours. They also ask that we not worry about picking up broken glass and other sharp objects, instead contacting them so someone “official” can come out to manage it.
Hosting clean up hikes can be a lot of fun. Find something strange? Photograph the evidence and store in a greatest hits album. Most importantly they instill a sense of stewardship in our kiddos, and help keep our trails clean and fun. Plus, it has the added benefit of building a strong relationship with your city government; if you’re helping maintain trails by picking up trash, they may be more willing to help you out with space for a workshop or event that you want to host down the road.
As we’ve said, Hike it Baby is really good at building communities, and we’d love to encourage you to help give back.
Photo Credits: Ashley Scheider, Kali Allen
Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade, and a work-at-home mom to an adventurous small boy who believes firmly in hitting the ground running and the walls climbing. Follow her adventures, fun feats, and tasty treats at SalmonAtSeven.com. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook – @SalmonAtSeven.