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story.lead_photo.caption Liv Paggiarino/News Tribune People walk along the Greenway Bike Trail on Wednesday before the rain sets in for the afternoon in Jefferson City. The Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission is teaming up with a local trails group to host a 2021 summer trails challenge to encourage people to spend time outside on the trails.

Rising temperatures and the warm sunshine are calling area residents to enjoy the outside, and local outdoor enthusiasts are laying down a challenge.

The challenge?

To walk, bike, jog or run 21 miles of area trails between May 1 and July 31. The kickoff for the Trails Less Traveled Challenge will be 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Washington Park Ice Arena parking lot.

The challenge is part of a partnership between the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and the Jefferson City Trail Users group.

Alexis Kerman, program manager for the parks department, said 58 people have registered so far for the challenge. However, people can continue to register throughout the challenge.

The challenge is free for participants; if you want a T-shirt, the cost is $10.

Kathleen Henley, a member of the Jefferson City Trail Users, said the group came up with the idea as a fundraiser and went to the parks department for support with it.

The Jefferson City Trail Users is a group of people who enjoy frequenting the area trails and go out once a month to clean them, pick up trash and cut back brush, Henley said.

She said the goal is to make the challenge an annual event to raise funds for different trail projects. Funds from this year's challenge will go to the parks department.

"We started out with trying to find a fundraiser we could do this year that would kind of motivate people to get out on trails and explore," she said. "With the last year of lockdown, people just need to get out and walk because it's so healthy."

The challenge isn't only for people already active on local trails. Henley said she encourages people to join Facebook groups for the challenge and Jefferson City Trail Users, which also has a website.

There's also an app called AllTrails, she said, which offers information about which trails are suitable for walking pets or strollers.

Additionally, part of the registration packet will include information compiled by the Trail Users.

"Our hope is to grow this to where people in other communities might want to expand the challenge," Henley said. "You don't have to walk on a trail here to experience or get to the 21-mile goal for 2021. You can experience the trails in Fulton or Columbia or wherever you want to be with your family.

"We want to encourage people to do something fun as a family or a group and get outside," she said.

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