Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hike, bike or ride to celebrate National Trails Day on June 5

By Joe Jerek
Missouri Department of Conservation

Celebrate the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day 2010 on Saturday, June 5, by exploring some of the Show-me State’s 700-plus miles of foot, bicycle and equestrian trails provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The Department offers various types of trails at more than 136 conservation areas and 10 nature and education centers throughout the state. These opportunities include 43 areas with 420 miles of multi-use trails that allow horseback riding and 49 areas with 417 miles of multi-use trails that allow cycling.

Foot traffic is permitted on all designated trails. Cycling and horseback riding are allowed only on designated trails in some areas. Pets are allowed on many conservation-area trails but must be leashed or confined at all times. Pets are not permitted at Nature Centers.

When hiking or riding a trail, follow these tips to help ensure a safe experience:

· Get a map of the conservation area you will be visiting to help get familiar with it.

· Let someone know about your plans, including when you expect to return.

· Check weather conditions and avoid inclement weather.

· Dress appropriately.

· Learn to recognize possible plant and animal hazards such as poison ivy and ticks.

· Follow all area regulations.

· Leave only footprints and take only photographs.

Find a trail near you by visiting your local Conservation Department office, or through our online Conservation Atlas at www.MissouriConservation.org by searching “Trails.” The online database can provide trail information by region, county or type, along with area maps and specific regulations.

MDC Nature Shops also offer “Conservation Trails,” a comprehensive guide to MDC trails that includes maps and facility information, points of historical and geological interest, and flora and fauna you may encounter along the way. Order it online at www.mdcnatureshop.com, or pick up a copy at a Nature Center near you. Cost is $5 plus tax. Get a 15% discount with a Heritage Card.

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