Five Rivers MetroParks offers virtual classes to boost hikers’ backpacking prowess

Five Rivers MetroParks has constructed miles of new trails at Germantown MetroPark. The additional mileage snakes through prairie, mature woodlands and wetlands. Five Rivers MetroParks also is offering virtual classes to boost hikers’ backpacking prowess. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Five Rivers MetroParks has constructed miles of new trails at Germantown MetroPark. The additional mileage snakes through prairie, mature woodlands and wetlands. Five Rivers MetroParks also is offering virtual classes to boost hikers’ backpacking prowess. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Cold weather might not inspire long walks outside, but winter is a great time to learn the ins and outs of backpacking to help prepare for future outdoor adventures.

Five Rivers MetroParks is hosting a series of virtual backpacking classes to help beginners or seasoned hikers who want to expand their outdoors toolkit. The workshops will be hosted live by Angie Sheldon, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator, so participants will be able to ask questions during the program.

Programs cost $5 per event, will run through February and require registration ahead of the event. To register and see available programs and dates, visit metroparks.org/programs. February classes include sessions on meal preparation and on water treatment for backpackers.

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“We think utilizing this interactive, online programming option allows the public to interact with our staff to ask questions and get customized responses and help to move them along their path to become confident, independent, responsible outdoor enthusiasts,” Sheldon said.

It’s not as easy for MetroParks staff to convey the same personal touch through instruction videos, but Sheldon said the virtual programming allows the staff to feel more connected with the audience.

“We certainly look forward to offering additional in-person opportunities in the future to help people get out and live,” Sheldon said. “With the focus to stay close to home, we want people to maximize their local assets.”

Miami Valley residents may not realize there is a 30-mile backpacking trail only 20 minutes from downtown Dayton. Sheldon suggested Twin Valley Trail, which includes portion of western Montgomery County, as a perfect spot for beginning backpackers to get comfortable with their equipment and build their skills.

“While it’s colder out, you might not be getting out as often, but you can start kind of dreaming and planning of those adventures that you’ll be doing soon as the weather starts to warm up,” Sheldon said. “So I think it’s a great time to kind of figure out and set some goals for yourself for the year.”