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Outdoors enthusiasts and avid hikers can celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act this weekend at the Sanborn Center in Earl Brown Park in DeLand.

The event is hosted by the Florida Trail Association and is free to the public.

Things get started at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, when attendees can learn about America’s important trails while checking out various presentations, workshops, demos and displays and meeting a variety of outdoors leaders. Speakers Friday and Saturday include well-known speed-hiker and author Jennifer Pharr Davis; outdoor diversity advocate and author Audrey Peterman; and Marine combat veteran Sean Gobin, founder of Warrior Expeditions.

The West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority will participate in the festival on Friday afternoon to help authors Sandra Friend and John Keatley launch their new, full-color Third Edition book, 50 Hikes in Central Florida, which includes West Volusia trails and sites, Executive Director Georgia Turner said in a news release.

“They will be signing their book and discussing their work from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Sanborn Center Atrium,” Turner said. “WVTAA donated 50 copies of this book for the festival. The first 50 people to sign up for a FTA membership will receive a free copy!”

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 6, the Florida National Scenic Trail Coalition will meet in a session open to the public. The coalition is composed of land management, academic, nonprofit and other government agency partners that have a stake in the future of the Florida Trail, FTA says on its website.

Saturday afternoon will feature more displays and speakers, and the day wraps up with a  barbecue dinner catered by Brian’s Bar-B-Q of DeLand, FTA says on the website.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday,  Oct. 7, FTA volunteers will lead a variety of day hikes open for all to participate in, organizers said.

According to the National Park Service, the National Trails System Act of 1968 called for establishing trails in both urban and rural settings for people of all ages, interests, skills and physical abilities. The act promotes the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access.

The Florida National Scenic Trail was established as part of that legislation. FTA says the trail is approximately 1,300 miles long and is intended to offer a continuous, permanent, non-motorized recreation opportunity for hiking and other compatible activities.

The USDA Forest Service is the administrator of the Florida Trail, charged with planning routes, overseeing development and establishing partnerships to complete the trail.

Over its length, the trail showcases the incredible biodiversity, history, and rich culture of Florida. The trail runs from Gulf Islands National Seashore near Pensacola, through the Apalachicola National Forest to the Osceola National Forest, then south through the Ocala National Forest, the Little Big Econ State Forest (with a loop to the west that encompasses the Withlacoochee State Forest), along the Kissimmee River to (and around) Lake Okeechobee, and finishes up in Big Cypress National Preserve north of Everglades National Park.

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