One of the best things about the East Bay Regional Park District’s Trail Challenge 2013 is that there are trails for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians of all ability levels. It’s also a plus that the featured trails and routes are changed or modified from year to year. That means that even if you have hiked in a given park before, you are likely to be introduced to a new trail or a route that you have not seen for a while. Trying something new can provide a welcome variety that keeps things more interesting.
The Trail Challenge concept is a simple one, but a winning one: you are challenged to complete five featured trails or 26.2 miles (a marathon). It works on the honor system. You keep track of your miles, record them on the provided log, and mail in completed log by December 1, 2013. Participants receive a commemorative pin while supplies last. There are free organic tee-shirts available at selected parks’ visitors’ centers on a first come, first served basis. Kaiser Permanente co-sponsors the challenge.
After going to the EBRPD website and registering for the annual event, you don’t have to wait for a booklet to come in the mail. You just download the pages you want from PDF files after your registration is processed (which may take a few days). Beginning in early March, mobile phone aps will be available. The program is free to Alameda and Oakland residents and employees of Kaiser. (Non-residents can also register free under certain conditions.)
Pages 20-22 of the PDF are handy for getting started: these color-coded pages are entitled “At-a-Glance Featured Trails.” The green page lists Easy hikes, the yellow one lists Moderate hikes, and the red page lists Challenging ones. From the charts, you can easily narrow your search for the trails that interest you based on the parks themselves, their locations, and the trail descriptions including mileage and level of difficulty. From there, you can go to the pages that describe the routes in more detail and view a topographic map. This year, volunteers have also put colored bands on posts along the trails indicating the routes.
Whether you select the shortest route, the .94-mile roundtrip Picklewood Trail in Martinez Regional Shoreline (rated easy) as your first undertaking, or the longest, the 15-mile roundtrip on Marsh Creek’s Regional Trail (rated moderate), you will be taking steps toward improving or maintaining your physical and mental health.
Concerned about hiking solo? Join a guided hike and receive credit for the miles completed with the group. Last year, more than 100,000 people signed on for the Trail Challenge; this year you can be part of this healthy movement! See you on the trail!
To visit my blog, Backpack45's Musings, click here (no ads!). To find trail information about the Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, and the Camino de Santiago, please visit my website by clicking here.