Gov. Jay Nixon visited Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson today and logged miles hiking on the park's Sheppard Point Trail. The Governor encouraged Missourians to join him in the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, which encourages Missourians to complete 100 miles of outdoor physical activity by the end of the year. Already, more than 831,000 miles have been logged by over 10,400 participants as a part of the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge. In an online poll on MO.gov, Missourians rated Trail of Tears State Park as having the best hiking trails in the state.
"Missouri's award-winning trails offer families the opportunity to have fun, get outside and experience some of the Show-Me State's most outstanding natural landscapes," said Gov. Nixon. "It is exciting to see so many Missourians enjoying a variety of outdoor adventures and, with close to 1,000 miles of trails in Missouri State Parks, the opportunities to take advantage of our fantastic resources are nearly endless."
Gov. Nixon kicks off a hike as part of the 100 Missouri Miles challenge with Special Olympians and Missouri State Rep. Kathryn Swan in Trail of Tears State Park.
Missouri was recently named the "Best Trails State" by American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting our nation's hiking, biking and riding trails. This national award recognizes innovative and successful trail sharing efforts, programs, and systems.
During his visit today, the Governor logged miles hiking on the Sheppard Point Trail, a three-mile trail that highlights the sharp ridges, steep ravines and a distinctive forest type at Trail of Tears State Park. In 2010, the trail was rebuilt and rerouted by a team of State Parks Youth Corps workers. The Missouri State Parks Youth Corps is a nationally recognized jobs initiative launched by Gov. Nixon in 2010 to enhance Missouri's 87 state parks and historical sites. It is a cooperative partnership between the Division of Workforce Development and Missouri State Parks. Since its inception, the program has employed more than 2,000 young people who have put in nearly 500,000 hours enhancing parks and sites throughout the state.
Missouri State Parks offers almost 1,000 miles of managed trails and the state claims more than 500 miles of National Recreation Trails designated by the U.S. Department of Interior. Notable trails include the Lewis and Clark, Trail of Tears, Santa Fe National Historic Trails, and the Katy Trail, the longest developed rail-trail in the nation.
Missouri State Parks was also named recently as a top-four finalist for the 2013 National Gold Medal Awards. The Gold Medal Awards program honors communities that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning and program development. This recognition is a reflection of the state's dedication to protecting and preserving Missouri's natural resources.
Missouri State Parks was also recently honored with a Project Excellence Award from the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP). The award recognized an innovative project that included creation of a comprehensive trail inventory and database containing information, images and maps of every trail within the system. The wealth of knowledge gathered through the inventory was then compiled into an illustrated "Trails of Missouri State Parks" book, which provides information on more than 230 trails in 47 state parks and historic sites.
Earlier this year, Gov. Nixon announced that attendance at Missouri's State Parks increased in 2012, another sign of Missouri's economic recovery. More that 18 million guests visited Missouri's State Parks in 2012, the fourth consecutive increase in attendance since Gov. Nixon took office, reversing a 10-year decline.
Missouri trails and state parks are also important drivers of tourism and economic activity. A recent economic impact study found that visitors to state parks produced an overall economic impact of $1.02 billion and supported more than 14,000 Missouri jobs. Another study found that the Katy Trail alone generates nearly $18.5 million a year in economic impact for the state, supports 367 jobs, and makes an overall economic impact of $8.2 million to the local trail communities.
The Governor's 100 Missouri Miles Challenge is a partnership with the Missouri State Parks, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Missouri Division of Tourism. For more information and to take the Challenge, visit MO.gov. Participants can also share adventures, post photos and learn about upcoming events by connecting with 100 Missouri Miles on Facebook and Twitter.