A Reason To Stretch One's Legs

A Reason To Stretch One's Legs

Volkmarchers pair up with Trails Day for walks throughout the city’s trails.

Walking through the city’s 14 miles of trails reveals many types of wildlife, tree and plant species, while also providing a safe way to get exercise and explore the city, according to city officials.

“We’re very blessed to have as many trails as we do in such a small city,” said Brian Knapp, chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The city unveiled a trails map listing all of the city’s parks and amenities at the 14th annual Trails Day, Saturday, June 10, at Van Dyck Park. The American Hiking Association’s National Trails Day, which took place on June 3, sponsors Trails Day events around the country.

“A day like today just kind of highlights what we do all year,” said Knapp.

Boy Scouts from packs 882, 656, 889, 987 and 918, and from troops 1887 and 187 came to help guide people around the city. They provided a junior naturalist’s guide for children, explaining the different types of nature and wildlife that can be seen along the city’s trails. The includes a picture of the different plant and bird species, so children can try to identify them along the walk.

“It’s a nice little guide for the youngsters to look at,” said Jon Buttram, of troop 882.

Buttram said the Fairfax Trail’s Day is one of the largest in the region. He was glad that the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were involved because it’s a way to bring them together in a “venture that’s unique to the City of Fairfax.”

“There are so many health benefits to walking, hiking, biking and running,” said Buttram. “And trails are a safe way to do that.”

The scouts provided guided walks and pointed out trees, plants and wildlife along the way. They made sure no one litters or does anything to jeopardize the trails’ natural beauty or the different species’ habitats. Buttram said the boys are encouraged to leave the trails nicer than how they found them.

THIS YEAR, Volksmarchers, a German term meaning “a walk of the people,” joined in with Trail’s Day to conduct its summertime non-competitive walk. The group of walkers sponsors four main walks per year, and said the day was a great opportunity to get more people interested in Volksmarchers. The walks are free, or people can pay a small fee to earn progress-tracking points and receive pins and patches for certain distance milestones. Barry Plott, one of the organizers of the event, said he has walked over 14,000 kilometers in his lifetime with Volksmarchers.

“You can go to places you’ve never been before,” said Plott. “Even dogs can come.”

The walks take place all over the country, and Plott has attended them in at least four states, he said. Another member, Bob McLean, has earned several pins and patches. He said the walks are also a great way to see the countryside for almost nothing at all. He and his wife visited Juneau, Alaska, one year on a cruise. When the ship docked and many people paid more than $80 for a guided walking tour, he and his wife did Volksmarchers there instead for $3. He said they saw more than the tour folks did, since trails in most cities usually highlight the nicer and more scenic parts of town.

“The best of the area is what you’re going to see,” said McLean.

Knapp said he was excited about the proposed ball field project for the Stafford property, since trails are also proposed to be included in the park.

“Because of the space and landscape there, it’s a natural to build a park,” said Knapp.