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American Hiking Society Invites Everyone to Join Their Mission: Enjoy, Share, and Preserve the Hiking Experience

Ahead of National Trails Day®, learn more about the mission and work of American Hiking Society, and how you can get involved in National Trails Day® this year.

What started in 1976 as an impassioned group of hiking enthusiasts showing up to advocate for trails, turned into an organization committed to the boots-on-the-ground work required of building, maintaining, and preserving trails across the country, and continuing to bring the voice of hikers to the halls of Congress to advocate for trails on the federal level. 

Now 48 years since its inception, American Hiking Society(Opens in a new window) is as dedicated as ever to their mission to empower all to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience through its advocacy(Opens in a new window) efforts, trail stewardship(Opens in a new window) programs, JEDI initiatives(Opens in a new window), and annual celebration, National Trails Day®(Opens in a new window), a day of service for local trails and the people who love them.

Celebrating Trails and Building an Inclusive Outdoor Community

American Hiking Society has long been committed to creating a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive hiking community. The organization believes it is their responsibility to reach, listen to, and represent the entire outdoor community — especially those who have previously not felt welcome or heard in the outdoors and hiking world.

National Trails Day®, celebrated on the first Saturday in June every year (this year, on June 1st!) is centered around a collective goal of building a world where everyone feels welcome and has access to enjoy the great outdoors. With hundreds of events taking place across the country, National Trails Day® provides an incredible opportunity to connect with your community in the outdoors. From trail clean ups, to trail maintenance opportunities, and various fun outdoor activities like hiking, biking, paddling, and horseback riding, there are so many ways to celebrate with your community on the trails!

National Trails Day® History

This year, American Hiking Society is celebrating its 32nd annual National Trails Day®!

As previously mentioned, American Hiking Society was formed by a group of hikers and trail lovers seeking to preserve the hiking experience by advocating for trails. In 1990, the National Trails Agenda Project issued a set of recommendations in a report named Trails for All Americans that focuses intently on the importance of trails in America. 

In response to those recommendations, in 1991(Opens in a new window), American Hiking Society conceived of a program to highlight the importance of the National Trails System and simultaneously advocate for increased trail use and volunteer stewardship. The program created to achieve that? National Trails Day®! The program was proposed as highlighting one day each year — the first Saturday in June — to celebrate America’s trails and their use.

By June 5, 1993, American Hiking Society, under the direction of David Lillard, launched its first ever National Trails Day® with hundreds of organizations participating around the country.

Now, 32 years since its first-ever celebration, National Trails Day® continues to be a day that highlights the importance of America’s trails, and encourages trail users of all kinds to head outdoors to enjoy, and steward, these important spaces.

How to Celebrate National Trails Day® With AHS

One of the greatest things about National Trails Day®? Participating in National Trails Day® is not only about celebrating trails; it's about making a difference. It's a chance to activate your community and unite with trail lovers across the country for a common goal: to enjoy the outdoors and contribute to a world where everyone has access to nature. 

Curious how you can celebrate? Here’s seven ideas!

Find an event(Opens in a new window) near you that suits your interests! Whether that's hiking, joining a trail clean up, paddle boarding, etc. — there's no wrong way to celebrate! Don't see an event near you? It's not too late to register and host(Opens in a new window) one!

Take the National Trails Day® Pledge(Opens in a new window) and commit to leaving the trails and the outdoor community better than you found them and be entered to win one of four prize packages of premium outdoor gear! (Including a pack from Osprey!) 

Leave a trail better than you found it. Stay prepared for an impromptu trail clean up by taking a trash bag with you whenever you go out for a hike or walk and can collect any trash you find along the way!

Wear your love of the trails! American Hiking Society's National Trails Day® gear is now 15% off on the AHS Hiker store(Opens in a new window)! Use code: 2024NTD15. Each purchase helps to support American Hiking Society’s mission and it’s a great way to help spread awareness about the organization and National Trails Day®!

Spread the word! Tell your friends, family, hiking, and camping buddies about National Trails Day® and invite them to hit the trails with you, or encourage them to find an event in their local area!

Capture the moment. Share your National Trails Day® adventures by tagging your photos and/or videos with #NationalTrailsDay and @AmericanHiking(Opens in a new window) on Instagram. Photos and videos tagged on public Instagram accounts by June 8, 2024, will be entered to win one of four more prize packs with premium outdoor gear! (Including a pack from Osprey!)

Celebrating Trails All Year Long

We all know that building a world where everyone feels welcome and has access to enjoy the great outdoors takes work, and that trails cannot advocate for and maintain themselves — which is why the work American Hiking Society does is essential all year long.

Throughout the year, American Hiking invites outdoor lovers and trail users to join them on stewardship trips through their Volunteer Vacations(Opens in a new window) and Alternative Breaks(Opens in a new window) (geared towards college students looking to make an impact during their school break).

Whether it’s your first time or 100th time partaking in trail maintenance projects, the experience is incredibly enlightening and rewarding as you’ll get a firsthand look at what it takes to build and maintain trails while leaving a positive impact on the places you love to explore for future generations to enjoy. It’s worth noting that previous trail maintenance experience is not required to join American Hiking on one of these trips! Each trail crew is accompanied by a trained and knowledgeable crew leader that will provide assistance and guidance throughout the project.

Interested in learning more about advocacy? American Hiking can help there, too! The organization hosts Hike The Hill®(Opens in a new window) annually in a joint effort with Partnership for the National Trails System. This event brings together the trails community to advance shared trail priorities with congressional and federal agency leaders including: trails funding, public lands management and conservation, equitable access, and other top priority issues that sustain trails and improve access to public lands. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn more about outdoor advocacy, and how you can use your voice and make an impact on a local and national level to trail issues important to you! 

Of course there are other ways you can support American Hiking’s mission — like giving a gift(Opens in a new window) to the organization to help them to continue to build out their programs and continue their advocacy efforts. Love hiking gear? American Hiking’s Hiker Store(Opens in a new window) is stocked with gear that can help you spread awareness about the organization while also helping to support trails with every purchase.

Follow along as American Hiking shares about volunteer opportunities, hiking resources, and humorous trail anecdotes (have you seen their ‘Overhead On The Trail(Opens in a new window) series yet?) on social media (@americanhiking on all social channels).


Share your adventures with @ospreypacks