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June 23, 2023 Karen Lewis

Join the KMTA Trail Challenge: A Unique Hiking Experience to Support Outdoor Education!

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind hiking experience – the KMTA Trail Challenge is here, taking place from June 28th to September 30th! And where does this adventure take place? On the breathtaking KMTA hiking trails! 

The Trail Challenge is not your ordinary hiking event; it’s an opportunity to connect with nature, explore historic trails in Alaska’s only National Heritage Area, and support a worthy cause: expanding access to trail-based outdoor learning for Alaskan youth. We welcome outdoor enthusiasts from all backgrounds and skill levels to join us! 

Here’s what the Trail Challenge entails: 

  1. Hike, Climb, and Compete: Participants will challenge themselves to hike a specific number of trails in the National Heritage Area. But that’s not all! You can also compete for top total elevation gained and mileage completed throughout the event. Share your hikes with us by snapping some selfies and tagging us on social media and have a chance at winning some awesome swag from local sponsors.
  2. Embrace Local Businesses: Discover and support the trail-adjacent communities and businesses that make KMTA hiking experiences even more memorable. Don’t forget to tag KMTA and our sponsors in your social media photos taken at these establishments. By doing so, you’ll have even a better chance to win some awesome giveaways throughout the challenge.
  3. Foster Stewardship and Learning: We encourage participants to pack out any trash they find on the trails they hike. By tagging us in photos of your cleanup efforts, you’ll have extra entries for exciting rewards. Additionally, join us on KMTA’s social media for historical trivia and connect with us at pop-up events at trailheads. There, you can learn more about current trail conditions, stewardship practices, and sustainable trail usage.
  4. Empowering Outdoor Education: When you sign up for this challenge, you will be supporting our efforts to expand access to inclusive, trail-based education for Alaskan youth. Discover more about our purpose of our fundraising goal below! 

Ready to take on the challenge and explore our trails? Fantastic! Just follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to your outdoor adventure: 

Step 1: The first step in your journey is to choose the number of trails you want to challenge yourself to hike throughout the KMTA National Heritage Area. Select the challenge that’s right for you when you register at our race page on RunSignUp. And guess what? By registering, you’ll also score some awesome swag including a custom-designed hat and water bottle – Don’t miss out! 

Step 2: Trek and Log – As you conquer those trails, log your adventures on RunSignUp. Include your elevation, distance, and write the name of the trail(s) you completed in the comments section of your activity log. We’ve curated a few resources to assist you in selecting the perfect trails to explore: 1) a list of named trails in the KMTA National Heritage Area, which you can find on Alltrails.com, and 2) a helpful Trail Guide with a handful of featured trails in each KMTA community along with other relevant information. 

Any named trail in the KMTA National Heritage Area counts, regardless of whether or not it is featured in our AllTrails list or trail guide. If you do not know the elevation or distance of the trail you hiked, you can look it up in AllTrails to find that information. 

Step 3: Log Review – The KMTA team will review your activity logs as they are submitted. Your elevation and mileage will automatically update in the RunSignUp leaderboard. We will manually add your completed hikes to our custom spreadsheet, where we’ll keep track of your unique hike count and progress towards your challenge goal. This is why it is important to name the trails you hiked in the comments section of your activity log.  

Step 4: Stay in the Loop – Every week, we’ll keep you updated on Trail Challenge progress and results by posting an updated trail count spreadsheet on our website. Watch as the RunSignUp leaderboard automatically updates with distance and elevation gain tracking, once we approve your logs. 

Step 5: Hike, Snap, and Win!
We are incredibly lucky to have some fantastic sponsors supporting the Challenge this year, and we want to express our gratitude by inviting you to check out their businesses during your trekking adventures. We encourage all participants to take fun selfies during your hikes, when you visit one of our sponsors, and even of any cleanup efforts you engage in while on the trails. If you see some trash on your hike, please pack it out and help keep our trails beautiful! 

KMTA’s Objective: Preserving Trails and Making Outdoor Spaces Accessible

Now, let’s talk about our purpose: 

We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy our extensive trail systems and outdoor spaces. In fact, KMTA has invested over $410,000 to preserve the integrity of our trails, and are now working to make them more accessible. Trails are a significant part of our living heritage, and through our youth outdoor education programs, we aim to cultivate future stewards who will advocate for them and the outdoor spaces they inhabit. 

However, the lack of affordable and reliable transportation remains a significant barrier to accessing the full range of trail experiences in Southcentral Alaska. Rising fuel costs, long travel distances, budget deficits, and expensive bus rental fees often limit these opportunities to the most well-resourced families and kids. That’s why we’re raising funds through this year’s Trail Challenge to help support the purchase of a passenger van that would help us connect more people—especially local youth—to our trail systems and enriching outdoor learning experiences. 

We strongly believe in the transformative power of spending time outside. With your help, we can ensure more kids have access to those benefits through inclusive, trail-based learning.  

So, lace up your hiking boots, challenge yourself on the trails, and support trail-based education! Let’s make a lasting impact together! Join the Trail Challenge today and help us create a future where trails and outdoor education are accessible to all!