June 1 was National Trails Day and the event gave me a chance to consider the many benefits that trails provide in Colorado. It’s no secret Coloradans love trails. Trails for biking along the South Platte. Trails for hiking on open spaces. Trails that connect us to Cherry Creek and Chatfield State Parks. Trails near neighborhoods that allow us to commute to work or our kids to bike to school. The image of living in Colorado includes the notion that we can all walk out our back doors onto a hiking or biking trail.
Each year, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) teams up with the State Trails Program to award grants for trails across the state. And, in 2014, GOCO will provide an additional $5 million in lottery funds for trail grants to local governments. Since 1994, GOCO funds have helped create or enhance more than 700 miles of trails.
Whether it is a trail that they have to drive to or can walk to from their home, Coloradans cherish their trails that open up the great outdoors to them and their families year-round. These trails can be used by pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, snowshoers, cross-country skiers and people of all abilities and typically do not cost anything to use.
Trails, and the parks and open spaces they help us access, are a big part of how we stay healthy. Colorado consistently ranks as the fittest and leanest state in the country; however, the latest statistics show 18.7 percent of Colorado adults are obese (according to a Gallup-Healthways survey) and 10.9 percent of Colorado children between ages 10 to 17 years are obese (according to the Colorado Health Institute).
The health benefits of simply going for a walk on a local trail are enormous and go beyond fighting obesity. Research shows that walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can enhance mental well being and reduce the risks of Type 2 diabetes and life threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition to the physical and mental advantages of using trails for fitness, being out on a trail is an opportunity to take in the scenery. Watching the birds at Colorado’s newest state park, Staunton State Park, near Conifer. Taking in the view from the Red Mountain Trail in Manitou Springs. Exploring the trail connections around Denver on the South Platte River Greenway.
Take advantage of the hundreds of miles of trails Colorado has to offer. It will give you a reason to celebrate trails all year long.