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As trails around Syracuse extend, city hosts International Trails Symposium

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The International Trails Symposium at the Oncenter.

The International Trails Symposium is being held in Syracuse this week. The biennial event brings together all types of trail enthusiasts from across the country. This comes as more new trails are being planned for the central New York region.

Jim Rolf, trail coordinator with the New York State Snowmobile Association, was one of 90 vendors at the symposium. He said snow trails are becoming more recognized for what they contribute to some small communities in the North Country, where there is no other economic benefit in the winter.

“Communities that allow snowmobiling, embrace snowmobiling, have an infrastructure where the trail systems takes you to restaurants, gas stations, park-and-ride lots,” Rolf said.

The opening welcome session of the symposium was about the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile route stretching from New York City to Canada and Albany to Buffalo. It goes with the theme of the event; health, happiness and heritage, according to Candace Gallagher, the director of operations for American Trails, which puts on the symposium.

“We bring all trail types together to feed off of each other, learn from each other, talk about our problems and solutions," Gallagher said. "Whether it be for about getting funding or volunteers, how to market appropriately, how to maintain your trails, make them sustainable.”

Gallagher said with all the different types of trails, the common goal is recreation.

"It’s also about health benefits," Gallagher said. "A trail is a great resource. It’s about family time. It’s about spirituality, a stress reliever, breathing in the fresh air. It’s multiple benefits, getting out on a trail, no matter the type of trail it is.” 

Projects to close a 14-mile gap of the Empire State Trail through central New York are expected to be announced this week. And work continues on extensions of the Creekwalk in Syracuse and the Loop the Lake trail around Onondaga Lake. The city’s bike sharing program is also supposed to start this spring.