GREAT FALLS — Get Fit Great Falls is planning to host several hikes, and provided the following information:
Kick-start your summer outdoor activities by celebrating National Trails Day on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Choose from 11 hikes planned in the Rocky Mountains, Highwood Mountains, Little Belt Mountains and on Great Falls-area trails. This one-day event is sponsored by Get Fit Great Falls, a non-profit organization advocating healthy, active lifestyles. National Trails Day is celebrated across the nation, but Great Falls historically is one of the largest. As a courtesy to landowners and fellow hikers, participants are asked to leave their dogs at home.
Hikes range from kid-friendly to strenuous and are categorized into six classes: Kids – Easy – Moderate depending on miles hiked and/or elevation gained. Hikers are asked to read the hike descriptions carefully before selecting a trail to fit their physical conditioning. Those recovering from physical challenges, families with children in strollers or folks just starting to get into shape should check out the shorter walks and hikes labeled “easy” or described as “stroller-friendly.” Those seeking a more challenging experience should watch for hikes labeled “moderate or difficult.” Get Fit Great Falls reminds registrants selecting a hike to “Understand your skill level about hiking and your physical fitness level. A difficult five-mile hike in mountainous terrain is much more challenging than walking 5 miles on the flat paved sidewalks of Great Falls.”
Be sure to read where the hike departs. Unlike past years, hikes will meet in various locations to account for social distancing. Hikers are advised to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled time to meet their hike coordinator. Some hikes require driving to a trailhead, some will meet and then caravan, while others depart directly from Gibson Park.
Several trips are being repeated this National Trails Day due to popular demand, including Windy Mountain Loop and the Rivers Edge Trail Westbank Loop. For little ones, the Kiddos Playday Walk with Megan Shermele is designed for pre-school through second-grade children; and the longer Kiddos and Grownups Hike is offered and led by educator Miranda Murray. The Great Falls Bicycle Club will offer a guided bike ride along the Rivers Edge Trail, participants will need to provide their own bicycle.
Montana State Parks and USDA Forest Service rangers will lead hikes at Giant Springs State Park, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Sulphur Spring along the Lewis and Clark Trail, Memorial Falls, and Lewis and Clark Pass along the Rocky Mountain Front. These state and federal partners help make National Trails Day all the more special, as most of the hikes traverse public land.
It is advised that participants come prepared with a daypack, lunch, plenty of drinking water, closed-toed shoes, sunscreen and rain gear, as most hikes happen regardless of the weather. In the past, June showers have not dissuaded participants, and the sun has often broken through the clouds for a beautiful day of hiking. Experienced hikers believe in the adage, “There are no bad hiking days, only bad clothes.”
For more information, click here to visit the Get Fit Great Falls website.