Local nonprofit calls all trail explorers for hiking challenge

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The West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition is inviting residents to sign up for a trail hiking challenge with perks attached.

The Comstock Park-based nonprofit, dubbed WMTGC for short, said it is launching the West Michigan Trails Challenge to encourage more people to get out and enjoy the region’s natural beauty.

The coalition started receiving a record number of inquiries about different trails in West Michigan since the onset of COVID-19 with a nearly 300% increase in trail utilization during the pandemic.

With so many events being canceled, the nonprofit decided to give people a way to get out, explore trails and receive perks.

“We thought, ‘Let’s make a challenge,’” said Jennifer Antel, development coordinator for WMTGC.

Running through the rest of the year, people can explore as many of the 40-plus West Michigan trails on the list as they want, and if they register for the challenge, they will receive a T-shirt. Those who explore at least 20 of the trails by Dec. 31 will earn a medal.

Registration is available online and is $45 with a swag bag or $25 without.

The cost of registration (and an optional additional donation) supports the WMTGC’s work of building, connecting and maintaining trails.

“If you love West Michigan trails, here is your chance to get out and explore the ones you maybe haven’t had a chance to experience,” WMTGC said.

“Participants can walk, hike, bike, run, ski or snowshoe … or skate. Whatever your favorite mode of transportation — just get out there and explore. You don’t have to travel the entirety of each trail, just explore what you can.”

WMTGC is a nonprofit organization founded to strategically engage the community in coordinating, connecting, funding and sustaining the region’s trail systems. Its mission is to develop a world-class, connected trail system in West Michigan for everyone to enjoy.

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