May 31, 2009 in Idaho Voices

National Trails Day celebrates beauty off the beaten path

Patty Hutchens
 
Tags:hiking

With the snow finally gone and the gardens in bloom, people in this area are tuning up their bikes and dusting off their hiking shoes to enjoy all the beauty that Sandpoint has to offer.

And while many trails are already busy with bikers, Rollerbladers, joggers, walkers and hikers, there are many interested in developing even more trails to cater to the increasing number of people interested in getting out.

Saturday is National Trails Day, an event created by the American Hiking Society to raise awareness about nonmotorized trails. To celebrate the event, local organizations are planning a gathering in Sandpoint to discuss and educate the community on existing trails and on how individuals, businesses and organizations can help construct new ones.

The event will kick off on the lawn of Pend d’Oreille Winery at Third and Cedar streets in downtown Sandpoint. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, trail advocacy groups will be available to provide information on new and existing trails as well as details about the two-day National Trails Day celebration in and around Sandpoint.

The weekend includes information on native plants, a bike ride on one of the more scenic trails in Bonner County and a hike to enjoy views from the county’s highest point.

The Kinnikinnick Chapter of the Idaho Native Plant Society will sponsor a native plant walk along the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, where participants will learn more about efforts being made to make this shoreline path into a public trail and also about the native plants that line the path.

There is also a work party planned for the Gold Hill trail, and about 25 people are needed. The Forest Service will provide tools and lead the crew in grooming the trail for the upcoming hiking season. Those interested can meet at the Saturday morning gathering at the winery and carpool at 12:30 p.m.

Some of the many trail advocacy groups involved in planning this weekend-long celebration include The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, Pend Oreille Pedalers, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, the Backcountry Horsemen, the Bonner County Trails Advisory Group, Native Plant Society and Idaho Conservation League.

For a complete list of activities, go to www.scotchmanpeaks.org or www.pobtrail.org.

Bike ride benefits early education program

For the second year in a row, Panhandle Alliance for Education is hosting the Cycle Hard for Education fundraiser ride. Last year’s ride took place in September, but this year organizers decided to change the date to June 13 to better accommodate the biking community.

“This (the June date) fits better into the planning for many riders,” said Geraldine Lewis, the ride coordinator for this year’s event.

“We are excited about the new date, and we plan to stick with it every year.” She adds that most of those registered so far this year are first-time participants. “They are excited to find a ride for the June month.”

Another change this year is the addition of the half CHaFE. Those who prefer to ride 75 miles instead of the full 150 will stop in Troy, Mont., and be bused back to Sandpoint. However, organizers need to know by Monday if people are choosing this option so they can assure everyone has transportation.

The start and finish line this year will be at the scenic Edgewater Resort at Sandpoint’s City Beach. It will be a daylong celebration with breakfast provided by Trinity at City Beach and snacks, beverages and music upon the participants’ return. Organizers encourage everyone to attend the events at City Beach and cheer the riders on.

Registration and rider packet pickup will be June 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Panhandle State Bank Events Center, 414 Church Street, in Sandpoint. Afterward, there will be an opportunity for riders to meet and mingle at Sandpoint’s Ivano’s Ristorante. Participants will receive a free meal coupon and will be offered several meal choices.

Assisting in the organization of the day’s events is Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which is giving time to serve as start- and finish-site organizers. Lewis said the three companies working on the construction of the new Sandpoint highway bypass – Parsons Construction, Pacific Pile and Marine, and Peak Sand and Gravel – also are playing a large part in this year’s CHaFE 150.

“They will be a large presence in our community for the next five-plus years,” said Lewis. “They wanted to team together to give something back to the community and what better way than to give to children and education. We are so glad they are underwriting this event.”

All of the proceeds from the CHaFE 150 will go toward Panhandle Alliance for Education’s Ready! For Kindergarten program, an early childhood program beginning its second year.

According to Lewis, registration is still open for the ride, and those who register as a group of three or more will be given a 20 percent discount off registration fees.

CHaFE 150 organizers say that because all of the proceeds benefit a nonprofit organization, they strongly encourage riders to do their best to maximize donations, soliciting from friends, co-workers, church and social communities.

“The Ready! For Kindergarten program grew beyond our expectations last year, making our fundraising efforts that much more important in 2009 and future years,” Lewis said.

For more information, log on to www.chafe150.org or contact Geraldine Lewis at (208) 290-7148 or e-mail ride@chafe150.org.


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