According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and other sources, trail magic is any unexpected, random act of kindness along a trail — something that bolsters the hiker, runner, cyclist when they need it most, a surprise along the way that treats the trail user and lets them know that someone loves the trail they are on, and appreciates their usage.
It also sends a message that as a community, we are protective of the trail as an asset and encourages others to feel the same.
So how can you be a Trail Angel? Here are a few quick helpful “rules:”
- Keep it simple. Any act is appreciated — it could be cold water, a friendly wave, sharing your snack or putting up a sign of encouragement.
- Be present. If you are going to hand out water or food, don’t put a cooler out and leave. The impact of unattended stations can ultimately be detrimental. Animals can get into it and trash can accumulate.
- Make it official. There are Adopt a Trail programs with both the city and county. Just like Adopt a Road, your commitment is to help keep your portion of the trail clean. In exchange, the managing agencies provide recognition for their Adopt a Trail participants. Sometimes a sign or recognition on their website.
So, we’re not the Appalachian Trail, but we’ve got beautiful trails and protected areas in our community, and some people are already going full speed ahead with trail magic. Here are two of my favorites:
Gary, The Bearded Gent
This guy is on the trail EVERY DAY! He is a traveling ambassador, stopping by our Welcome Center or the Chamber office to restock his supply of trail maps to take with him. But the really cool part is that since our trail is still relatively new, we don’t have much wayfinding signage, so Gary carries sidewalk chalk and writes messages and directions along the trail to help people find their way to places. When it rains, he just heads out and does it again!
Mims United Methodist Church Chain of Faith Bike Stop
This church is next to the trail in the downtown part of Mims (just north of State Road 46). They have turned a building on their property into a rest stop for weary trail users, with restrooms, picnic tables, bike repair supplies, parking and more.
What started as a small outreach has grown exponentially, and on Saturdays after 7 a.m., they set up and offer wonderful homemade food and refreshments. They even have a business card to share with a phone number on it, so if you find yourself on the trail in the area and in need of assistance, you can call them and they’ll come pick you up.
Brevard County has many parks and trails, so we hope that this will inspire additional angels to create magic in their own communities. But if you are in North Brevard on our newest trail, make sure you look for the trail magic.
Learn more about trails in North Brevard:
Marcia Gaedcke is president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce and a lifetime resident of Titusville and Brevard County. She is a passionate leader and a serial volunteer, concerned about the future of our community and economy, and is willing to roll up her sleeves and work for the betterment of Brevard.
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