Trail Fest welcomes variety of trail users

Event begins Friday with a new name

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The annual mountain bike festival that is held over three days in three Allegheny County parks has a new name.

The seventh annual event has been renamed Trail Fest to reflect the inclusion of riders, runners and hikers.

The fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group begins at 6 p.m. Friday in Hartwood Acres Park and continues Saturday in Boyce Park and Sunday in North Park.

Robert Habegger, the group's membership coordinator, said hiking and trail running have become more popular.

"We're trying to make sure we follow our own multiuse trail philosophy and include everyone who uses the trails," said Mr. Habegger, who is a hiker and trail runner.

Trail Fest will begin, rain or shine, at Hartwood Acres with rides, runs and hikes led by the trails group and Pittsburgh Off-Road Cyclists members.

On Saturday, registration opens at 9:30 a.m. at the soccer field at Boyce Park with riders, runners and hikers departing at 10. Food and drinks will be served at 1 p.m.

The weekend will culminate Sunday at North Park's ice skating rink with registration at 11:30 a.m. and rides, runs and hikes departing at staggered times. Vendors of outdoor items and supplies will be there.

Founded in 2001, Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group has a mission "to maintain, protect and encourage access to shared-use trails in Western Pennsylvania." Volunteers help repair and maintain single-track trails within Allegheny County's parks as well as other local trails used by mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, cross-country skiers and equestrians. The group also works to promote responsible trail use.

Trail group board member Michelle Wojnar, also a hiker and trail runner, is helping to organize Trail Fest. She said the group's previous bike-minded board has received an infusion of hikers and trail runners over the past two years.

"This year, we're trying to involve everyone who uses the trails in all of our parks and that includes equestrians," she said. "We don't want to leave anyone out, and we want input from all trail users, not just one group."

Mrs. Wojnar, 34, of Aspinwall, said PTAG is undergoing a transformation.

"We want people to understand this is a family-friendly event for all ages, and everyone is welcome. That's why we changed the name," she said.

When it was called Mountain Bike Fest, the event included a hike, but the majority of participants were bicyclists. She said the name change invites hikers and trail runners and makes it clear that the trails group includes everyone who uses the trails.

Trail Fest information: www.ptagtrails.org.

neigh_north

Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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