Happy Trails to You, From Outside Las Vegas

Nonprofit encourages Las Vegans to take a hike


A web of paths and walking trails spans our city. At its heart is the opposite of a black spider: the fair, bright-eyed Rae Lathrop, associate director of Outside Las Vegas Foundation (OLV). From the nonprofit’s spacious, sunny loft in a former church building on Ninth Street and Bonneville Avenue, Lathrop oversees (among other things) the Adopt-a-Trail and Volunteer program, dispatching stewards to rescue strands of the web that are in need of TLC.

“We love being Downtown,” she says. “It’s nice to be close to things, and part of a bike-friendly community.”

Particular “things” Lathrop likes being close to: the Southern Nevada Health District, the Regional Transportation Commission and, especially, the City of Las Vegas. All are instrumental in OLV’s efforts to get people moving outdoors, but the City is a founding partner of Adopt-a-Trail. Two years ago, it gave OLV seed money to start the program, and Lathrop has since signed on four program sponsors (including Wells Fargo) and a half-dozen trail sponsors (e.g., Weight Watchers) and logged 2,300 volunteer hours. Between all that and donations, the program has generated $4 for every $1 of city money spent, putting every cent toward operation costs and equipment, Lathrop says.

What’s it all for? “To raise awareness of trails in the city, to get people out for trail maintenance, but also to make sure trails are being used,” says Lathrop.

Businesses, church groups, civic groups and the like choose trails and make them their own. A sponsor may donate signage, organize hikes—anything to improve its piece of nature. For instance, on its 160th anniversary, Wells Fargo got 100 of its employees outside for a cleanup of the Las Vegas Wash Trail, followed by a barbecue at Douglas A. Selby Park.

Lathrop’s team also created a trail map for the city (find it here), so there’s no longer any excuse for ignoring that lovely urban hike that’s practically in your backyard.

All Adopt-a-Trail events are free and open to the public. Call 702-530-3143 or e-mail rlathrop@outsidelasvegas.org to learn more.

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