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Trail Fest expands; aims to draw better

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group members want to attract more users to the Allegheny County parks trail system, with changes to the annual Trail Fest.

This year's eighth Trail Fest, formerly the Mountain Bike Fest, will feature expanded activities including trail running and hiking with leaders, in addition to mountain bike rides.

“The last two years, we've tried to diversify because the trails are multiuse trails and are used by hikers and bikers and equestrians and birders,” said Jim Kapp, PTAG board member. “So PTAG wanted to represent the multi-use group out there” at the festival.

The festival will take place July 12 to 14, with each day featuring a different county park.

On Friday, planned rides, runs and hikes will start at 6 p.m. at Hartwood Acres Park, Hampton and Indiana townships. On Saturday, a lunch will follow the rides, runs and hikes at Boyce Park in Plum. The festival will conclude Sunday at North Park, in McCandless, Pine and Hampton, with multiple times for rides, runs and hikes and a lunch following.

“We're trying to expand it to include everybody,” said Michelle Lynn Wojnar-Frere, a PTAG board member who is organizing this year's festival.

“What we're trying to do is to offer multiple times for mountain biking, hiking and trail running … everybody is at different skill levels so we take that into consideration, too.”

PTAG is a nonprofit, volunteer organization founded in 2001 that maintains and encourages use of single-track trails in Western Pennsylvania.

In the past, PTAG has worked with local groups and the county to host trail work days to build or maintain trails.

Wojnar-Frere, of Aspinwall, said events such as the Trail Fest are family-friendly and free of charge, although participants are asked to make donations to help cover food and beverages provided by local restaurants and breweries. Donations will be waived if participants sign up to join PTAG.

In past years, the trail festival has attracted more than 200 participants, but Kapp said PTAG members anticipate doubling that number this year because of the added activities.

“This is just something to get people to be more active and … encourage people to wander off the roadway and get on to the trail,” Kapp said. “This is a reason to show off the park.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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