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12:23 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

Join the 2015 Hiking Spree and hike for free


Sue Tone/The Daily Courier<br>Highlands Center Education Director Mara Kack, left, and Executive Director Dave Irvine pose with the Center’s hiking stick with Hiking Spree medallions from the past seven years.

Sue Tone/The Daily Courier<br>Highlands Center Education Director Mara Kack, left, and Executive Director Dave Irvine pose with the Center’s hiking stick with Hiking Spree medallions from the past seven years.

About 150-200 people turned in their Hiking Spree forms this past year, but many, many more participated in this popular program through the Highlands Center for Natural History. The 2015 Kick Off event takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Highlands Center.

"What makes this popular is that you do it when you want to," Highlands Center Executive Director Dave Irvine said.

The idea behind Hiking Spree is to get people out and enjoying the trails, which have a difficulty rating from easy to strenuous. If hikers complete at least eight of 12 designated trails between Sept. 5 and Dec. 1, they are eligible to purchase a $5 medallion that can be affixed to a walking stick. They also are entered into a prize drawing to win a $100 gift certificate to The Hike Shack.

At Saturday's free kick-off event, mapmaker Nigel Reynolds and representatives from the Prescott National Forest will present an introduction to the trails. A continental breakfast is available.

Hikers can take an early-bird hike at 7:30 a.m. or the same hike following the presentation at 10 a.m. at the Highlands Center.

"This is a tradition for some people. They get the medallion every year to put on their hiking sticks," said Cynthia Jones, marketing and communications coordinator.

Some of the 12 hikes include Spruce Mountain West (4-mile loop, rated easy-moderate), Thumb Butte North (1.7-mile loop) and Acker Park (1.3 or 1.6-mile easy).

More than seven miles of city trails have been added to this year's Hiking Spree. These include Badger "P" Mountain (2.2 or 4.9 miles out and back, easy to moderate or strenuous), a new Embry-Riddle trail, and Longview (3.6 or 5 mile out and back, easy to moderate or moderate to strenuous). These new trails contribute to the Prescott Circle Trail.

Hikers do not need to complete the entire trail to count.

Free black-and-white maps are available at the

Highlands Center, the PNF office, and The Hike Shack. A complete color booklet of all trail maps is available at The Highlands Center for $10.

Hikers can pick up Hiking Spree forms at the kickoff event, the Highlands Center's Benson Family Nature Store, Hike Shack, or the Prescott National Forest offices on Cortez Street.