History of the First Marked Nature Trail in America
If you haven't heard of Tuxedo, New York before, you're not alone. Not a lot of people are familiar with this small, sleepy town that is about 30 miles north of the Big Apple, but it was here that the first known marked trail in the United States was commissioned in the 1920s. Situated in the Rampano Mountains and next to Harriman State Park, organizers thought this would make the ideal site for an educational nature preserve.
The “museum camp” was conceived based on the philosophy that nature is best studied in its own setting. The trick was to design the facility so that people could get up close and personal with nature without destroying the environment. This was a pretty tall order at a time when wilderness exploration wasn't considered to be a popular recreational activity. The trail took about four years to complete, and it quickly became an attractive destination for people from all over the region who wanted to take some time and get away from it all.
While this wasn't the first hiking trail, it was the first to be created as a wilderness learning tool. Markings and information stations were installed so people could learn about various plants and animals, and guides were available for tours or to answer questions. In many ways, we can look at Tuxedo as blazing a trail that contributed to the development of similar areas around the country.
The trail exists today, and while it doesn't get the same amount of attention as larger and more-popular destinations, it remains an important part of our history. It also serves to remind us that the best way to learn about nature is to experience it first-hand.
It also reminds us that we can enjoy being in nature without having to put together a wilderness expedition. Some of the nicest hikes, in some of the most beautiful areas, are within an hour or two of many large cities across the country. There are just waiting to be explored, and you can enjoy some wonderful time with nature during a short day trip.
The trail in Tuxedo still retains its small and humble beginnings despite the pivotal role that it played in establishing the network of campsites and trails that we enjoy today. Take some time to explore some of the smaller trails in your area, because they can be just as refreshing and enriching as their more popular counterparts. Chances are that you'll encounter fewer people, you won't need to carry so much gear, and you can pack up and head out without having to make a lot of plans beforehand.