The Kansas Trails Council and Sunflower Foundation hosted Sunflower State Trails Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. The day celebrated the trails across the state of Kansas.
“We were celebrating the 3,000 miles of incredible trails we have in the state as well as the ‘trail champions’ who have made them possible,” said Mike Goodwin, treasurer of the Kansas Trails Council.
It was the first Sunflower Trails Appreciation Day event, and Goodwin said many in the “trail community” had been talking about holding an event to celebrate all the trails in the state and that the event had evolved from those discussions.
“The Sunflower Foundation really made this event a reality with their financial and logistical support,” Goodwin said. “We worked with the Sunflower Foundation to identify and invite key trails…. to display exhibits about their trail or organization.”
According to Goodwin, the goal of the celebration was to raise public awareness about the many trails in Kansas, as well as “recognize the dedication of thousands of park managers and volunteers who created and maintain these trails.” The event had around 150 attendees, according to Goodwin and was “successful.” Goodwin believes it is important to celebrate Kansas trails because of all the benefits they provide.
“Trails provide a place to enjoy nature and our beautiful landscape… help us stay active and healthy…(and) bring visitors, from surrounding areas which helps local businesses and the economy,” he said.
Goodwin also mentioned the benefits trails can have for local communities, including “trails contribute to higher property values…provide a place to have fun with family and friends…(and) can connect neighborhoods and communities.”
The Pittsburg area has trails for students and community members alike to enjoy. According to the City of Pittsburg’s website, Wilderness Park, 23 Street Bike Park, and Trail Head Park-Watco Trail are all local trails that include walking and running trails as well as bike paths. There are also numerous parks with playgrounds, sports fields, and facilities in the area.
“I’ve always been interested in trails and nature, so I do some research online and found a few trails and went on them,” said Ross Ruble, junior in accounting.
Ruble frequents Wilderness Park to go on runs or to take a break from classes.
“I enjoy seeing the wildlife and the nature,” Ruble said. “It really brings peace to your mind and helps you unwind from school or work…”
He has noticed that many people also enjoy walking on the trail and enjoying being in nature.
“…You’ll often see other people, obviously runners or hikers with their dogs a lot of times,” he said. “You know, getting exercise for their dogs and themselves.”
Grace Geiger, president of the PSU Outdoor Activities Club, also believes trails should be appreciated and celebrated.
“I think being outdoors in general… is an opportunity for students to get away… and enjoy being in nature and also enjoy the relaxing part of that,” Geiger said.