County Trail Finder site encourages families to walk together
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 12:27

Site includes information on 80 walking sites across the county

 by Nicole Rodman

    Baltimore County officials are encouraging families to enjoy more outdoor exercise through the launch of a new website designed to help residents find walkable trails across the county.
    According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 12 percent of Baltimore County children are obese.
    The National Insitutes of Health reports that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of screens each day, but just four to seven minutes is spent in unstructured outdoor play.
   

In an effort to get families off the couch and exercising, Baltimore County has introduced the Trail Finder web feature.
    The site, accessible at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/trailfinder, includes free information on trails and other family-friendly walking locations.
    Trail Finder lists 80 sites across Baltimore County, including county and state parks, county public school recreation centers, shopping malls and city reservoir lands.
    The site, searchable by ZIP code, community or site name, includes a map of walkable locations and provides links to online maps for each site.
    The result of a collaboration of several county agencies, Trail Finder was the brainchild of the Baltimore County Health Coalition.
    The group devised the site as a way to promote outdoor exercise.
    “One of the priorities for the Baltimore County Health Coalition ... is to reduce childhood obesity, and the launching of the Baltimore County Trail Finder is a prime example of a problem being addressed through a cooperative effort,” Dr. Gregory Branch, director of Baltimore County Health and Human Services, said.
    County officials hope that through the Trail Finder web feature, more families will be encouraged to make walking a part of their regular routine.
    As Baltimore County Exeutive Kevin Kamenetz put it, “The data is clear — we all need more exercise — and what better way to ‘get it in’ than ‘getting out’ into the great outdoors?”