Beginning Wednesday, January 18, the East Bay Regional Park District’s nineteenth annual Trails Challenge is accepting registrations for 2012. The popular hiking program surpassed 10,000 participants in 2011. Residents of Alameda and Contra Costa County may register for free again this year, thanks to a partnership with Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and the Regional Parks Foundation.
The Trails Challenge is a self-guided hiking program that gives participants an incentive to visit regional parks new to them, while promoting good health and conditioning through enjoyable outdoor exercise.
Participants who register for the Trails Challenge will receive a free T-shirt and online access to the 2012 trail guidebook. The guidebook includes detailed trail descriptions as well as trails tips, driving directions, and maps for hikes in 20 different Regional Parks or Trails. Hikes range from easy to challenging. There are trails open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, and many are wheelchair accessible.
This year's theme is "Happy Trails.” In addition to trail information the guidebook includes sections on hiking with kids, hiking with dogs, trail safety and hiking in hot weather.
To register, visit www.ebparks.org, click on “Trails Challenge” in the “Features” section on the right side of the home page, and proceed as directed. Registrants must have an e-mail address, as further instructions will be e-mailed. An e-mail confirmation will provide registration instructions, and details on how to download the guidebook and obtain the free Trails Challenge T-shirt.
In a move towards “going green,” participants are encouraged to print out only portions of the booklet they need, though complete hard copies will be available for $5 each. Besides the specific trail information, the booklet contains general park district information and tips for new trail users.
A free mobile application for iPhone and Android smart phone users allows registered participants to bring the guidebook along with them wherever they go.
To complete the actual challenge, participants are asked to hike five of the trails or 26.2 miles and send in their log after doing so. They will receive a commemorative pin mailed to them. As in past challenges, the honor system applies. Nobody is checking to make sure participants hiked the trails.
The 2012 Trails Challenge includes the following parks and trails:
Big Break Regional Shoreline, Oakley
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Antioch
Briones Regional Park, Lafayette
California Riding & Hiking Trail, Martinez
Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, Martinez
Diablo Foothills Regional Park, Walnut Creek
Dublin Hills Regional Park, Dublin
Garin / Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park, Hayward
Hayward Regional Shoreline, Hayward
Huckleberry Botanic & Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserves, Oakland
Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area, El Sobrante
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, San Ramon
Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Fremont
Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, near Tassajara/Eastern Contra Costa County
Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, Pleasanton
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, Richmond
Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
Sunol Regional Wilderness, Sunol
Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, Richmond