PHILADELPHIA, PA — We all know that physical activity is good for our health, including our mental health, and during these many months of living with a pandemic, outdoor spaces have been some of the safest places to be active and spend time. Now there’s even better news. New research indicates that being physically active can also protect against severe cases of COVID-19, and an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts that being active physically can help reduce the risk of at least 20 chronic diseases.
All of this is cause for us to be active outside, which makes this Saturday’s (April 24) Celebrate Trails Day the perfect time to explore the region’s Circuit Trails. The Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey region is home to the Circuit Trails, one of America’s largest trail networks, which includes more than 350 complete miles of a planned 800-mile trail network across five Pennsylvania counties and four New Jersey counties.
In preparation for Celebrate Trails Day, an annual, national initiative organized by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a member of the Circuit Trails Coalition, here are a few ways that you can get moving, refreshed, and recharged on a Circuit Trail near you:
- Break out your bike – Take your wheels out for a spin. In Delaware Raritan State Park, Trenton Cycling Revolution will Celebrate Trails Day on Saturday with a group ride and rolling cleanup. Throughout the Circuit Trails, in addition to beautiful landscapes, the trails are also home to one-of-a-kind art. Take a trip to see the many murals on the Circuit including the birds on the Tacony Creek Trail and mosaics along the Manayunk Canal Towpath along the Schuylkill River Trail.
- Walk the waterfront – Many trails on the Circuit, like the Ulysses Wiggins Waterfront Park Promenade and the Delaware River Trail, can lead you to the waterfront. Lace up your sneakers, and hit the trails to seek serenity by the water.
- Go birding – Break out your binoculars, and discover the beautiful creatures that live within habitats along the trails. Consider visiting John Heinz Refuge Trails, America’s first urban wildlife refuge, which includes more than 10 miles of trails and is home to more than 300 species of birds. For Celebrate Trails Day, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is hosting a scavenger hunt.
- Run a race with others or your own – A fun trail run and walk is happening in Manayunk on Celebrate Trails Day. But in the absence of formal or competitive races in your area, you can map a trail route to fit your preferred distance, be it one mile, 5k, 10k or more. Trails on the Circuit can be as short as half a mile and as long as 60 miles. If you want to go the distance, check out the 69-mile long Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail.
- Enjoy time in nature – The healing benefits of nature are well documented. For example, “forest bathing” is linked to myriad health benefits including decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue. You don’t need to head into the forest to reap the benefits, you can access nature and green oases along the trails on the Circuit in your neighborhood. You can also participate in Tookany/Tacony-Frankford’s week-long Spring BioBlitz, which kicks off on Celebrate Trails Day.
- Get involved – In Montgomery County, the project team for a proposed six-mile segment of the Cross County Trail will host pop-up engagement sessions on Celebrate Trails Day. You can learn about the trail’s feasibility study and get connected to those making it happen. Check here for locations.
- Just get outside – Simply get outside this weekend, whether on a local trail or wherever you are.
Before you head out for the trail, learn more about how you can help make trails safe and fun for everyone by practicing good trail etiquette and by recreating responsibly. Learn how by checking out the #ShareTheTrail tips and #RecreateResponsibly guidelines.
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