Michigan Trails Week Challenge asks you to get outside and log your miles online

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

For those who love getting out on the trail, there's a lot to enjoy in the Mitten State. Michigan has over 13,000 miles of state designated trails, and thousands more that are managed by local, county, and federal authorities.

To honor this wealth of outdoor recreation possibilities, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is once again teaming up with the Michigan Trails andHines Drive Greenways Alliance (MTGA) to hold a special online challenge to celebrate Michigan Trails Week, which takes place Sept. 19-26.

"The purpose of this is to encourage people to find a trail close to home and get out there and experience it," says Andrea LaFontaine, MTGA's executive director. "Whether you're walking, running, hiking, biking, whatever your hobby may be, it's really just a way to highlight all of the great trails we have in Michigan and encourage people to get out there and log miles on our trails."

Long-time trail users and newcomers alike are invited to register for the free event through runsignup.com and share how many miles they traveled on Michigan trails throughout the week. 

Event organizers are hoping that participants will reach a collective goal of 100,000 miles logged. As an enticement to join in the online fun, those who register can earn electronic badges and enter an online raffle where they can win prizes like coffee including outdoors-themed caps, mugs, T-shirts, posters, gift cards and entries to Michigan racing events. 

Now in its second year, the Michigan Trails Week virtual event was started out of a recognition that trail enthusiasts might be missing out on some of their favorite group events due to the pandemic. Participants logged in roughly 80,000 miles last year, somewhat short of the 100,000-mile goal, but shared a wealth of photos of their trail experiences online. This year, in addition to hiking, biking, horseback riding, and navigating water trails, participants will also be allowed to ride off-road vehicles (ORVs) in the online event.

Each year MTGA and the DNR showcase a new set of partners for Michigan Trails Week. This year, they're highlighting the North Country Trail Association, Motor City Lower Huron MetroparkMountain Biking Association, Ionia Horse Trails Association, Paddle Antrim, and LAFF Pathways. Supporters can find out more about these organizations and make charitable donations to them as well as an ORV safety training course via the Michigan Trails Week challenge page. 

Those interested in participating in the event can also check out interactive non-motorized trail maps and share and view photos on a special trails week story map page. For LaFontaine, though, the most important thing people can do is just get involved in the Michigan Trails Week event.

"Even if you're going out for just a mile at your local trail, we encourage you to sign up and log in," she says. "You have a chance to win prizes and every mile counts towards helping us hit that goal of 100,000 miles."

Read more articles by David Sands.

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