Let's Go on a Year-Round Self-Guided AVA Walk

1
What is a Year-Round Walk?

Family Walking at Beach Bordwalk
© michaeljung / Depositphotos.com

When you are looking for a great walking route in your area, or a walking tour to enjoy on a day trip or long vacation, you best bet are the 1800+ walking routes established by the volkssport clubs of the USA and Canada, most available free to the public.

The American Volkssport Association and Canadian Volkssport Federation are the largest organizations of walking clubs in America. Their 600 clubs host non-competitive walks which are open to the public. Over 1800 self-guided walking routes are available for you to enjoy any day.

You can plan a walking vacation or find great routes to enjoy near your home. Each trail is about 10K (6 miles) long, and may be in any kind of terrain - city, suburb, parks, forests, countryside.

I'll show you how to find these walks and enjoy them.

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How To Find A Year-Round Walk

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Search US year-round walk listings: The AVA website lists details of each of the year-round events by state. Use this form to search by state.

Canadian Year-Round Walks

Check First: Before you go, it is wise to contact the club as there can be changes not yet listed. For example, the start point may have moved or the event closed when the start point (often a store, restaurant, hotel, or hospital) had a change of ownership.

Trail Ratings Decoded: what the trail ratings mean (1A,2A,3B, etc.)

Starting Point: the AVA Annual Guide to Year-Round Events
This yearly book has directions to every event across the USA, over 1800 trails.

Before You Go: To walk the route you will need to read a map and directions, so please be sure someone in your party has brought along their reading glasses.

3
Registering for the Walk

Start box and registration book for Cedar Milers Year-Round Walks
Start box and registration book for Cedar Milers Year-Round Walks. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Year-Round walks have registration points in a variety of locales. Hospitals, hotels, convenience stores, shops, and even private homes may be used.

Some walks are held in locations distant from the registration point, and some have mail-in registration so you can receive the map and instructions before going to the walk. This is especially true of walks in areas such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and other places remote from the hosting club. If you are planning a walking vacation to include such walks, research ahead of time to find any special registration details.

When contacting the club for directions, be sure to ask what to look for in order to register for the walk, and exactly where in the establishment to find it. A portable file box is a very popular registration box, or it may be a small filing cabinet.

If it is not immediately visible, ask the employees for the "walk registration box."

Inside the registration box, register in the Start Log with your name and address and sign with your signature that you agree to the liability waiver. Take a map and a start card/envelope.

Fill out a start card and pay the appropriate fee.

  • Many events allow you to walk for free.
  • Some have a small entry fee for all walkers.
  • Event awards may be available - a patch, medal, pin or other item to reward you for participation. These are are available for a small fee.

Read the directions to determine when and how to pay for the walk and receive the optional award.

4
Selecting the Trail and Getting Started Walking

Year-Round Walk Map and Directions
Year-Round Walk Map and Directions. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Select a trail and distance:: Often there is more than one trail choice from the registration point. In some cases you will have to then drive to where you actually begin to walk.

Distances: The standard trail length is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), and you are allowed to complete it twice in a single day on the same start card.

Trail Ratings: Trails are rated 1-5 for hills and incline, with 1 being the easiest, and A-E for trail surface and terrain difficulty. An A would be a smooth, paved surface, while C would be a mostly-natural surface. Trail Ratings Details

Restrooms and Water: Check the map and directions for useful information such as where the restrooms and water are along the trail so you may plan accordingly. It is wise to carry a water bottle on these walks.

Reading the Map and Directions: Ensure that at least one person in your party has their reading glasses if needed as you will need to read the map and directions as you walk.

Get on the trail: The club provides a map and directions, usually the trail is not marked.

5
Walking the Year-Round Walk: Speed and Distance

Dog Walkers
Enjoy a Walk at Your Own Pace. Depositphotos.com

Walk at your own pace:

Go as fast or as slow as you want.


Run or powerwalk if you want to go aerobic.


Stroll if you wish.


Stop to picnic, shop, or sightsee if you want.


Just be sure you can complete the trail by the official finish time - which is usually either dark or when the starting point closes for the day.

How long does it take to complete a 10 kilometer trail? At a very easy pace, it takes most people 2 hours. If you are a power walker, you will finish in an hour and a half or less. More difficult trails take longer.

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Checkpoints on a Year-Round Walk

Walkers on Vernonia Half Marathon
Walking Outdoors. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Checkpoints: There should be one or more checkpoints along the trail. They may be staffed, such as a snack counter, or they may be a question you must answer and write on your start card, to show that you have stayed on the official route and completed most of it.

Water: Check on the availability of water fountains along the trail before starting. It is a good idea to bring your own (filled) water bottle along to ensure you won't go thirsty along the trail.

Snacks: Some checkpoints and start points also sell food. Bring snacks if you think you will get hungry. If you have any health problems, consult with your physician to determine how you should prepare for a two-hour walk.

Restrooms: You should ask about the availability of restrooms along the trail before starting. Check the map and directions.

Gear: Wear comfortable walking shoes you have already broken in. Dress for the weather. Layers are always a good idea - you will probably warm up once on the trail, but may want a jacket or umbrella.

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Finishing a Year-Round Walk

Stamping IVV Books
Stamping IVV Record Books. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Finish: Turn your card in at the registration box, even if you are just walking for free.

Collect your award: Now you get your medal, patch, or other award if you registered for it at the start. If you didn't and now you want one, just upgrade and pay the fee, changing your log entry.

IVV Record Books Stamping: This is where you will stamp your IVV Record Books if you registered for the award or for credit.

Special Award Programs: Set fun goals and spice up your walking by joining in one of a dozen or more special programs offered nationwide or within a state. These programs have you enjoy specific themes for walks - such as States and Capitals, Forts, or American Trails. There is a small fee for a record book for each program, which you then redeem for a patch or other award once you have completed it.

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About the IVV Record Books

IVV Award Program
IVV Event and Distance Books earn you certificates, patches, and hatpins.

IVV Achievement Award Program: Earn awards by walking events and distance at volkssport events worldwide. Redeem your IVV Record Books at milestones such as 10 events, 30 events, 500 kilometers, 1000 kilometers for a certificate, patch, and hatpin to display your achievement.

IVV Record Books: Record books are sold by the clubs at each event, in the USA the books are $5 each, and are good worldwide. An incentive for new walkers is to buy the New Walkers Packet and receive the first set of IVV Record Books at a big discount. You get both an event record book and a distance record book for a total of $5.

Record Book Types

Event Record Books: Stamped once for each event (no matter how many times you completed the trail distance). Redeem at milestones: 10 events, 30 events, 50 events, 75 events, etc.

Distance Record Books: Stamped once for each completion of the trail with the distance recorded. Redeem at milestones 500 kilometers, 1000 kilometers, 1500 kilometers, etc.

At each event, by paying a single credit fee or buying the event award, you get BOTH books stamped.

Completing a Record Book: When the book is full, make a copy for your records and mail the book to the address listed on the front (to AVA for USA walkers) Be sure to then buy a new set of books at the next event to keep going while the AVA processes your books and sends you back your Achievement Award. AVA address: 1001 Pat Booker Rd. Suite 101, Universal City, TX 78148.

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