May 1 marks 10 years of Metro Parks trails approved for users of all abilities.
The park district started Spree For All, a two-month spring hiking event on flat, easy trails – and the counterpart to the more challenging Fall Hiking Spree – in 2004.
Since its inception, more than 23,000 participants have earned Spree For All rewards: a neck lanyard and commemorative pin for first-time hikers, and a commemorative pin for veteran hikers.
Last year, 2,740 people completed the spree. An estimated 10,000 hikers annually participate in the series, but not everyone completes the five required hikes or turns in their forms for credit, Metro Parks spokesman Nathan Eppink explained.
Eppink said each of the Spree For All trails has been tested by clients from Akron’s United Disability Services (UDS) and can be enjoyed by hikers on foot and those with wheelchairs, walkers, canes and strollers – including the new multipurpose Freedom Trail in Tallmadge, which is on the spree for the first time this year.
Regina Lewis, recreation specialist for UDS, has seen the benefits of combining fitness and fun during Spree For All.
“This network of accessible trails has provided a wonderful opportunity, not just for the participants in our programs but for so many others in the community,” Lewis said. “Completing the trails is a major accomplishment for our folks and a real source of pride for them.”
Jackie Palumbo, of Hudson, is looking forward to her second Spree For All with husband Mark and young sons Luke, 7, and Henry, 4.
“The family that walks together, talks together,” Palumbo said, noting exercise and quality time spent on the trails. “The spree is the perfect time to see nature awakening.”
To participate, download a hiking form at summitmetroparks.org or pick one up at any Acme Fresh Market store. Then enjoy five hikes on five different trails, the same trail or any combination of trails to earn hiking rewards, which are FREE to Summit County residents. Since the park district is funded by a Summit County real-estate tax, out-of-county residents pay to receive their rewards ($10 for first-year hikers, $5 for veteran hikers).
For more information, visit summitmetroparks.org or call 330-865-8065.