One of the great things I found out about recently is the REI upcoming events page. Not only do they have the dates for upcoming classes and the quartet Garage sale (which is hands down so great), they also list local outdoorsy community service projects. When I saw they would be working on clearing some trails at the Cedar Ridge Preserve, I immediately signed up.
My friend Lola and I were pretty excited not only to help out REI but also to check out a new set of trails. Originally we were in the prairie clearing group, but after losing track of them, we ending up with the branch clearing group on one of the inner trails. It wasn’t too hard and everyone was really friendly. We carried branches and vines about fifty yards off the trail to be composted, and ended up making some great progress.
Afterwards as a treat, REI had cold watermelon and free swag for us. It was such a great experience and such a good way to connect with other local hikers, I’m definitely on the lookout for more of these trail cleanup opportunities.
One of the Preserve’s manager told me he clears an entire two trash bags worth of plastic water bottles and wrappers a day and it’s still not enough. This made me immediately start bringing plastic bags on every hike to start cleaning up a trail as I go. It’s so easy to spot a gross crumpled up bottle, it’s an easy way to keep a trail clean by grabbing it on my way.
About a month after this event, I went back to the Cedar Ridge Preserve to explore more of the trails. I love how large it is and how well kept the trails are. It’s also basically zero pavement, which I really enjoy. I went on a Friday morning, my favorite time for trail exploring, and only ran into a couple of people.
The hills were fortified with wooden steps and there were several benches placed in scenic stops. It was really beautiful and varied. I have definitely made it one of my favorite hiking spots.