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Annual Trail Fest hits Hartwood Acres, Boyce and North parks this month

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Emma Bloom, 4, hikes with her father, Justin Bloom, of Hampton Township, and their dog, Lily, on the trails at Hartwood Acres in Hampton.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Bring sturdy footwear and lightly colored clothes for the ninth annual Trail Fest.

The three-day event — a smorgasbord of guided hikes, runs and mountain bike rides — aims to celebrate the woodland paths in three Allegheny County Parks — Hartwood Acres, Boyce Park and North Park.

“Basically, they're showcasing these areas,” said Mary Lynn Marsico of the nonprofit, all-volunteer Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group, or PTAG, which sponsors Trail Fest.

Through Trail Fest, the group hopes to grow its ranks of volunteers who help care for 200 miles of trails in 17 Western Pennsylvania parks.

“They want people to experience the trails,” said Marsico, a registered nurse and PTAG board member who lives in Aspinwall and hikes at Hartwood Acres. “In the midst of all this, we are hoping to get more members.”

It costs $25 to join PTAG.

PTAG members help Allegheny County “to build trails, maintain trails and ensure access for all users, and promote harmony between all users,” said orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Jamie Pfaeffle of Pine, treasurer of PTAG's board of directors.

Trail Fest 2014 will open with a mountain bike ride and hike from 6 p.m. to dusk July 18 at Hartwood Acres in Hampton.

Bring your own bike for the ride.

Robert Habegger of Hampton, an instructor for the L.L. Bean's Outdoor Discovery School, will lead the two-hour hike through 600-plus-acre Hartwood Acres, once the equestrian estate of the late John and Mary Flinn Lawrence. Along the way, Habegger will discuss the estate's history.

“It's going to be a very leisurely hike,” said Habegger, also volunteer coordinator for PTAG.

Habegger recommended wearing lightly colored clothes for easy tick spotting.

Trail Fest will continue July 19 at Boyce Park in Plum.

Guided hikes, trail runs and bike rides will start at 9:30 a.m. on the park's soccer fields. Food and beverages — free for PTAG members — will be available following the trail runs, hikes and bike rides.

Two mountain bikes, and getaways to Florida and Las Vegas, will be given away between 1 and 4 p.m. July 20 at North Park Boathouse in McCandless — the closing day and site for Trail Fest.

Vendors, shoe displays, bike demonstrations, food and beer also will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. July 20 at the boathouse in North Park.

PTAG especially seeks people, including horseback riders, to help improve trails at Hartwood Acres.

“We are in dire need of more people out there,” Marsico said. “I just find it to be the most peaceful park. There's so much history there.”

In advance of Trail Fest, PTAG invites people help repair sections of Denny's Trail — the white-marked trail near North Park Pool — beginning at 9 a.m. July 13. Bring gloves and boots. Lunch and water will be provided.

“To find the work site, drive away from the pool down Hemlock Drive,” Marsico said.

“There are some apartments on the right at the intersection of Peebles Road and Hemlock Drive. ... Park on Hemlock Drive, across from the apartments. Walk into the cleared area and look for a pavilion. We will be working on the trail behind the pavilion.”

For more information about Trail Fest, visit PTAG's online sits

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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