It used to be a tradition of city-dwellers to take a ride out into the countryside to a state park or forest and hike along the cleared trails.
But with our busy lifestyles, urban folks are looking for more local ways to get their exercise and see the sights without having to run a marathon. Travelers, too, are interested in sightseeing experiences while they stroll along city sidewalks.
There is an organization that supports those efforts: the American Vollksport Association. What are vollksports? The term translates as “sports for the people,” and includes self-paced, non-competitive events providing aerobic exercise such as walking or bicycling.
As part of the International Vollksport Verband, the AVA offers free events all over the world, open to everyone regardless of age or level of fitness. Families from infants in strollers to grandparents and singles of all ages are welcome. The Ohio chapter lists seasonal walks throughout the state that combine healthy activity with interesting sights.
Walking is the most popular of all U.S. volkssporting activities and has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the most beneficial form of exercise.
More than 3,000 sanctioned U.S. volkssport events are sponsored annually with participation open to the general public with no need to be an athlete. The events usually offer two trails: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) or 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).
The City of Steubenville in east central Ohio has hosted a vollksport walk for several years through the Gemutlich Wanderers chapter. Those who register to participate get an itinerary and map, with details of the buildings, attractions and unique features along the 5K and 10K walk.
As they weave through the city streets, participants learn about the 22 murals that adorn the downtown buildings, the history of the city as a major port in the 19th century and can even cross over the historic Market Street Bridge into neighboring West Virginia.
Steubenville developed its own Heritage Trail with a total length of approximately 4 miles. It begins in the downtown Beatty Park and winds its way through the historic downtown, ending in Belleview Park.
Trail highlights include the restoration of the Grand Theater, Historic Fort Steuben, the Carnegie Library and many beautiful churches. Maps of the trail can be obtained at the Fort Steuben Visitor Center at 120 S. Third Street.
Joining these trails is the newest effort by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the Market Street Mile. Designed for those who want to get some exercise during their lunch hour, the trail begins at the Chamber offices at 630 Market Street in Steubenville and wends its way down through town, across the Market Street Bridge and then back up to the offices, which equals exactly one mile.
The Chamber transforms one of its offices into “MSM” Headquarters where walkers can store their belongings while they walk and help themselves to a pick-me-up snack, water, and any other necessities they may need from sunscreen to umbrellas. There is also a sign-in sheet where participants log their walks and enter for a chance to win prizes. It is open during the Chamber’s regular hours, Monday through Thursday from 9-4. There is no need to register or sign up, there’s no charge and it is open to anyone, not just Chamber members or city residents.
So, if you can’t get out to hike this summer, take a stroll through your downtown. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover.
For more information on Vollksports and to find a local chapter, go to www.ava.org.
Article courtesy of Historic Fort Steuben.
Steubenville Hiking Trails