What is a “History Hike”?
It is a hike that requires Trailmen to learn about the history of the area as they progress along one or more marked trails.
Typically, those Trailmen who complete the entire trail AND complete a short essay about what they’ve learned can purchase a trail medal or patch to wear on their uniform as a way to show that they’ve completed that program.
Many of these trails are sponsored programs of the local BSA Council, and some are sponsored by historical societies.
Benefits to Trailmen
History hikes provide:
- Exercise to build stamina and endurance (…keep myself physically strong…)
- Advancement Opportunities (write your own trail badge on history, etc.)
- Scouts can also learn a lot of valuable history in a “hands on” environment.
- It’s very different to read about soldier’s huts that slept 12 men in triple tier bunks than it is to see such a hut and actually lie down in a bunk.
- The history becomes more real and meaningful as each scout experiences it first hand.
Locating History Hike Trails
In addition to searching the web sites (or calling) local BSA Council headquarters, you can find links to trail guides on the internet. Here are some examples:
- http://www.thecarolinatrader.com/collections/american-historical-trail-brochures-patches-and-medals This site provides details about many trails along the East Coast of the USA. These are history trails that include scavenger hunts, essay and trail medal opportunities. Several of the hikes are urban hikes through historical cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and Annapolis, MD (home of the US Naval Academy)
- http://www.glengray.org/trails.html This is an example of a local program at a local park.
- http://www.nnjbsa.org/openrosters/ViewOrgPageLink.asp?LinkKey=7417&orgkey=945 This is an example of a BSA Council sponsored program.
Some local Northern NJ trails include:
- Jockey Hollow (Morristown, NJ – Patriot’s Path Council);
- Battle of Monmouth Scout Trail (Monmouth Council);
- Cannonball Trail (NNJ Council);
- Palisades Historic Trails (NNJ Council).
There are many more trails available within a two hour drive time (i.e. Valley Forge Trail, Washington’s Crossing Trail, Ben Franklin Trail, Colonial Patriot Trail), and that list doubles if you can plan an overnight trip to more distant locations such as Boston, Washington DC, etc.