Starlight, a fingernail sliver of moon and flashlight beams will illuminate Catalina State Park’s Canyon Loop Trail this Saturday, as the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department celebrates National Trails Day with a 2.3-mile moonlight hike.
The short trek, rotating through local pathways annually since 2002, commemorates federal passage of the National Trails System Act of 1968 with food, drinks and T-shirts for the first 50 hikers.
Across the country, hiking clubs return to blossoming woods with daytime hikes and trail maintenance parties after a winter’s worth of cabin fever.
But in the desert, Saturday offers the perfect time to kick off the town’s nighttime hiking series, said Oro Valley Recreation Manager Lynanne Dellerman.
“The loop trail, to me, is extraordinarily beautiful, because it’s simple and there’s lots of neat things on it,” Dellerman said.
In a town laced with networks of natural footpaths and splendor, Dellerman said local officials strived to “bandwagon” themselves to the granola holiday as soon as officials learned of it.
Their zeal reflects a return to ecological activities across the country — especially whenever it ropes kids outside and away from electronic distractions, said American Hiking Society spokesman Ivan Levin.
“I think that there’s a big trend — especially from the local governments’ side — to get kids back outside and share the experiences that older generations have benefited from,” Levin said.
The American Hiking Society, an ecological advocacy and stewardship group, created National Trails Day in 1993 when the trails act turned 25 years old. That year, outdoors enthusiasts marshaled 100 events.
A year ago, hikers and bikers enjoyed 5,500 miles of pathways as 1,200 celebrations took place. The commemoration also rallied 175,000 hours of volunteer work to build and maintain 1,400 miles of trail — efforts valued at $3.2 million, according to Levin.
In Oro Valley, National Trails Day’s moonlight hikes and guest speakers — ranging from naturalists to Native Americans — draw more interest than any other organized stroll, said Nancy Ellis, the town’s trails coordinator and organizer of the hike.
Canyon Loop Trail’s lazy circuit of saguaros, sandy washes and saw-toothed skylines hasn’t played host to the event since 2003, when 20 people showed up.
Last year, Honeybee Canyon trail got the nod. T-shirt supplies were exhausted when 60 hikers turned out.
“People talk and meander, and it’s just really a lot of fun,” Ellis said.
|IF YOU GO
WHAT: National Trail Day Moonlight Hike
WHERE: Meet at Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive
WHEN: Saturday, June 7, 7:30 p.m.
COST: $5; food and beverages provided; first 50 get a T-shirt
WHAT TO BRING: Flashlight and appropriate hiking clothing