As you plan your summer vacation or look for something to do this weekend, hit the trail on one of the many trails that SCA members have restored over the years. SCA staff chose their favorite trails, all of which have been enhanced by the work of SCA crews or interns:
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The Spencer Bench Trail in the Chugach National Forest can only be reached by taking the Alaska Railroad to the Spencer Whistlestop. Hike the Spencer Trail for rugged alpine views of surrounding glaciers.
San Francisco Bay Area
SCA has enjoyed a long partnership with Slide Ranch, a nonprofit environmental farm and educational preserve with property located on the Marin Coast, north of Muir Beach. The park features organic gardens, a tidal pool network, and winding coastal trails.
Hegewisch Marsh is the largest wetland in Chicago. Situated amid Chicago’s industrial Southeast Side, the 130-acre marsh is a mix of wetlands, woodlands with vernal ponds, and wet prairie that host migratory birds, coyotes, beavers, and muskrats. It is an important nesting site for Illinois’ endangered yellow-headed blackbirds.
Houston SCA members have been pivotal in the creation of the creation of 15 miles of trails as a part of the From Crosswalks to Boardwalks initiative, a product of numerous partners coming together to build a network of trails designed to help people get from the crosswalks of the cities to the boardwalks and forests of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge.
For 4 years, SCA Houston youth have brought their cutter mattocks, pulaskis, shovels, saws, elbow grease, and tenacity. They forged the Knobby Knees Loop (1.0 mile) through the bottomland hardwood swamps of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. They started by removing cypress knees to increase the safety and accessiblity to visitors. This also allowed others to use small vehicles to transport materials for the building of the boardwalk over Palmer Bayou that connected Knobby Knees Loop to Leapin’ Lizard Loop, another 1.5 mile trail Houston SCA built.
Houston SCA youth refresh the trails three times a year, trimming new growth, removing logs that have fallen into the trail, and repainting the blaze markers in the trees. The trails have become so popular, these youth had to install erosion control measures due to so much foot traffic.
Because of the huge involvement of Houston SCA with the From Crosswalks to Boardwalks Initiative, crews have also been invited to name and design logos for other trails. One crew created the logo to Spirit Oaks Trail by infusing the SCA logo leaf and a feather inspired by the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area, the Arkokisa tribe. It was their respectful way of acknowledging those who came before us and who survived by respecting and nurturing the land around them in their own spiritual way.
The last trail in this system of trails on Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge to be built will be the most challenging but also the most inspirational. This trail is aptly named, The SCA Way. This remote trail will have to built and maintained by a backpacking crew. These urban youth will experience camping in remote settings on the banks of the Trinity River for 2-3 days, practicing leave no trace skills while leaving their mark on the trail, ‘the SCA way”. It will be an experience that will surely leave a inspirational impression on those who build the trail as well as those who get to experience the trail as a result of these urban youth who grow up and practice ‘the SCA way’.
- Houston Crew’s Innovative Approach to Environmental Education
- Houston Community Crew at Work
- Houston Past Events
Crews have worked in Van Cortlandt Park on the “Old Croton Aqueduct Trail,” which literally sits atop the “Old Croton Aqueduct” In Van Cortlandt, it cuts through one of the oldest stands of trees in the park, easily making you forget you’re in the five boroughs.
- Trails Day Hike at Van Cortlandt Park, New York City
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The best spot for hiking in Newark is Branch Brook Park. The park’s 360 acres include vast lawns, playing fields, winding paths, and miles of streams, pools, and lakes. The Brook Branch Park Trail is a 4.3-mile loop trail offering a natural respite in the heart of Newark. The trail is lined with cherry trees and offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and road biking and is accessible year-round.
Each spring, more than 4,000 cherry trees produce an dazzling display of blossoms, celebrated annually at the park’s festival attracting many thousands of visitors. In fact, the park has the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the United States.
Forbidden Drive runs through Wissahickon Valley Park, an extensive urban park. The park gives you the feeling of being somewhere in the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania, not in the city limits. Forbidden Drive is a mostly vehicle-free unpaved road that runs through the park and is used by bikers and hikers to access the smaller trails in the park.
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The Sterling Connector Trail in Pittsburgh’s South Side Park was constructed by SCA school year and summer Crews through a steep valley, overgrown with invasive plants, known by park goers as “Jurassic Valley”. Due to thick brush and steep terrain community residents on the eastern side of the park beginning at Sterling Street had no access to hiking trails until SCA blazed this new trail.
- Trails Day Project at South Side Park, Pittsburgh, PA
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SCA has a great connection to Schmitz Preserve Park. Crews have worked there in partnership with Washington Trails Association and Seattle Parks.
School-year crews have also maintained trails at Lake People’s Park. The park is small, and the trail is short but heavily used. Because it is small, the trails department is not able to prioritize its maintenance. SCA members brushed and cleared all the trails in the park. Two of the students on the crew lived down the block and had not know about the park until working there.
SCA often has crews at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the summer working on pond restoration and invasive removal.