March 12, 2008 > Trails Challenge
By Sam Rao
Photos By courtesy of Isa Polt-Jones
With 98,000 acres of parks, trails, hills and water fronts, in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) is offering its 15th year of the Trails Challenge to the community, and while registration is required, this year the Challenge is free, courtesy of the Kaiser Foundation.
From a set of 20 park trails in the East Bay Regional Parks system, the public is challenged to register and discover at least five of the designated hikes by Dec. 1. The challenge is open to the public. Difficulty ranges from easy to moderate and challenging, all listed in the Trails Challenge 2008 Guidebook available to all participants who are not required to be East Bay residents.
"This year the registration is free, courtesy of the Kaiser Foundation. Last year, the event cost $13 and participants got a free T-shirt," said Jennifer Robinson, Outdoor Recreation Leader for EBRPD and Coordinator of the Trails Challenge. Along with her colleague Matt Griffin, Trails Challenge has already received about 400 applications for the program that officially gets underway in April. "Last year we had over 2,000 participants and we expect a larger number this year," added Robinson. She said that each registrant will receive a special gift and a commemorative pin will be sent after completion of the challenge while supplies last. Organic T-shirts will be available for purchase as well. To complete the challenge this year, registered participants can also satisfy the challenge rules by hiking a total of 26.2 miles along designated trails.
The Trail Challenge 2008 Guidebook will highlight the 20 hikes of this year and include details, trivia and wildlife information of each area. This program has helped involve more of the community in protecting and developing parks and open space. It has also informed the public of ballot measures which ensure better management of open space, maintenance of parks, personnel requirements and the need for new trails. As result, the East Bay Regional Park and Recreation areas are one of the best in the State with 98,000 acres and 65 parks, 15 lakes, 10 protected bay-shore wetland habitats, and 1,400 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, including several hundred miles of connector trails between linked parks.
To register for the 2008 Trails Challenge, call (888) 327-2757. Kaiser employees are to use course code #18260 for Trails Challenge registration. For more detailed information, call (510) 530-6751 or visit www.ebparks.org.