Travel

The 2021 Fall Hiking Spree include more than 2,000 new participants – beaconjournal.com

future-dyanmics

More than 15,000 hikers — both two-legged and four-pawed — hit the Summit Metro Parks trails in the 2021 Fall Hiking Spree.
The 15,330 hikers included 2,557 hikers trying out the Summit Metro Parks trails for the first time, and 244 canine companions, parks officials said. 
However, while last year’s numbers were impressive, they fell just short of the 2020 Fall Hiking Spree record, which had nearly 17,000 finish the annual challenge.
“During the pandemic, we saw a significant increase in park visitors,” said Lisa King, executive director of Summit Metro Parks. “Our parks offered people a place of respite and a chance to explore the outdoors in a safe and convenient manner. Many were first-time visitors who have continued to explore our parks and all we have to offer. We’re thrilled to see the number of spree participants increasing, and we hope 2022 will set a new record.”
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In the annual Fall Hiking Spree, which runs every year from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, prospective hikers need to finish at least eight designated trails, including one that is the hiker’s choice. There is a form listing the year’s designated hikes for hikers to fill out. There are 12 trails to choose from with varying levels of difficulty. 
First-year hikers earn a hiking staff and shield. Returning hikers earn an additional shield to put on their hiking staff. These rewards are free for Summit County residents; out-of-county residents pay $10 for first-year hikers and $5 for returning hikers.
The 2022 Fall Hiking Spree will be the 59th year for this event.
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For those who want a warmup, the Summit Metro Parks will have its 19th annual Spree for All from May 1 through June 30.
“This hiking spree is made up of flat, easy trails and is carefully curated for hikers with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs,” King said. 
In the Spree For All, hikers are asked to complete five hikes — which can be five different trails, the same trail or a combination. First-year hikers earn a neck lanyard and commemorative pin, and returning hikers earn a commemorative pin. 
King said hikers should follow a few safety tips, such as staying on the trail and planning ahead before they venture out.
“Hikers are encouraged to be good trail stewards by staying on the trail for their own safety as well as the protection of natural resources,” King said. “When planning a hike, park visitors are encouraged to review the park map beforehand and check for trail alerts on summitmetroparks.org.”
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Alerts also are posted on Summit Metro Parks Twitter page at @metro_parks. 
In addition, hikers should stay hydrated, King said.
“Dehydration can happen quickly, but it’s easily preventable by bringing a water bottle on your hike,” she said.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com

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future-dyanmics

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