AKRON, Ohio - Summit County MetroParks are celebrating 50 years of an extremely popular program that gets folks out on their park trails.
"The Fall Hiking Spree is the most successful, longest running program of its kind in the country. It began in 1964 and we have thousands of families and individuals to do it every single year," said Nate Eppink, Chief of Marketing for the Summit MetroParks.
That's nearly 13,000 people each year, including families like the Chubas who moved to the Akron area mainly for the Summit County parks. They have been hiking these trails for 10 years and now bring their two sons.
"Four years ago, we would run the trails for exercise. Now we're chasing little kids and seeing wildlife, leaves and kicking, picking up rocks and throwing rocks everything that goes with it," Larry Chuba said.
"I like how it causes us to go and see more of the MetroParks," Sarah Chuba said.
The spree consists of hiking eight trails during the three month period beginning Sept. 1 and ending Nov. 30. You can choose from the many trails offered in the 16 different parks
"The trails are all rated from easy to moderate to challenging and each park really kind of has its own personality," Eppink said.
Four-year-old Marcus loves it out here, especially when he's looking for squirrels and muskrats. He already has four shields on his hiking staff. You receive a staff your first year, along with a unique commemorative metal shield for each year you complete the program. There are 13 people that have done it all 50 years.
"This time of year, especially you will see people on the trails with their hiking staffs. They are very very proud of them. We are getting into peak fall color here pretty soon and the season. It happens quick so we encourage you to get out now and enjoy it while you can," Eppink said.
The spree is free to Summit County residents and available to everyone else for a small fee. To get started you need a hiking form, which can be found at the trail heads. Here is a link to it along with more information: http://bit.ly/1fL24DN
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