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Tied by Trails: The Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA)

Sep 29, 2014 10:55PM ● By Ryan Frisch

Tie on your hiking boots—the Upper Valley Trails Alliance wants YOU to get out on the trails! For 15 years, the Alliance has been maintaining trails and connecting eager community members to them. Serving 43 communities in two states, the UVTA is described by Executive Director Russell Hirschler as “a top resource for all things trail-related.”

Promoting trails, connecting communities—this is UVTA’s motto, as well as what is accomplished every day through the organization’s activities. Russell, who has been director since 2008, says that the UVTA is unique because it is the only organization of its kind in the area. By building and maintaining trails, organizing outdoor events, and spreading the word about both, the Alliance is drawing the community closer together in a natural setting. “[We] take a truly regional approach to trail and program development, with the ultimate goal of a connected regional trail network accessible by all users in the Upper Valley,” says Russell. “After walking a trail we recently built [and] seeing dozens of people enjoying it, I would say the most successful accomplishment of UVTA is the ability of our organization to meet the trail needs and recreational needs of our community and our region.” The UVTA’s actions and outreach define its broad success.

UVTA has made it simpler than ever to find a convenient and well-suited hike for you and your family. Just pull up their Trail Finder, a database that allows users to browse trail maps, directions, and details, as well as to read comments left by other hikers. “It will change the way people access trail and recreation information in the region,” says Russell. In fact, the Trail Finder proved to be an invaluable tool for creating this past June’s article on hiking destinations in the Upper Valley. The database includes all you need to know about local hikes and provides directions to trails in your area that you may not have known existed. Before you explore the outdoors, be sure to explore this outstanding website.

The work of the Alliance is not limited to fair-weather days. Its programs extend throughout the entire year. If your kids have the winter blues, offer them a “Passport to Winter Fun.” Kids track their wintertime exercise, whether it’s sledding, ice skating, skiing, or indoor swimming, in their passports. Through hours of activity logged, they earn prizes, many donated by local businesses. The program has been a monumental success for promoting winter activities, especially outdoors. In 2013, 72 percent of participants said they were more active after the program than before.

There are countless ways to enjoy the benefits of the UVTA. Donations and volunteer work are critical to the continued success of the organization. The impressive accomplishments of the group are thanks to three dedicated staff members and a yearly budget of less than $200,000. You can volunteer at Trail Workdays or attend Trail Stewardship Workshops to support the cause with your manpower or womanpower. In addition, you can donate to contribute to the good works; about half of the yearly budget of the Alliance comes from individuals.

What is your favorite trail or outdoor activity organized by the UVTA?

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