Join the Volksmarch

"A volksmarch is a non-competitive 6 mile (10 kilometer) walk. It's not a pledge walk, it's not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself. "
--American Volkssport Association

Volkssporting began in Europe in the 1960s in response to the need for some type of outdoor sport, free from competition, for people of all ages. In 1976, volkssporting came to the United States as part of the nation's Bicentennial Celebration. Typically in an organized volksmarch event, you will see dozens to hundreds of people following a set trail that is designed to pass through points that are especially interesting or beautiful. The trails are usually 10K and average two hours to stroll at a leisurely pace. There is usually no fee to walk unless you wish to earn awards. You can find much more information including links to local clubs and events at The American Volkssport Association Web site.

Fun for the Whole Family

Many volksmarches are wheelchair and stroller accessible, and your dog may also be welcome. It's wise to check with the sponsoring club before setting out for the day as some trails may be restricted.

The AVA Master Program honors adults and youth who participate together in volkssporting, and it recognizes adults who mentor youth in the physical fitness aspect of the sport. The program also honors youth groups from scouts and others who participate in volkssports.

The following books and Web sites can help you find your footing in this delightful and healthy pastime:

In the Library:
These books, while not strictly about volksmarches, will encourage you to find other beautiful and interesting paths in our area.

The Essential Guide to Nature Walking in the United States by Charles Cook.
From one of our nation's greatest outdoor enthusiasts, a man whose wide-ranging experience includes walking America's most spectacular trails, comes this invaluable state-by-state guide to an extraordinary range of areas for easy-to-moderate nature walks. This book is ideal for walkers of all ages and abilities who wish to sample more of nature's beauty - from seniors to young adventurers, from fitness walkers to those who want to take it easy.

Inn-to-Inn Walking Guide, Virginia and West Virginia by Su Clauson-Wicker.
"Typical hikes wind through America's cultural landscape, past living history sites and museums, as well as remote mountaintops and forests. Walk along the towpath of a former canal, meander along the level grades of a converted railroad bed, and hike through serene holdings of an elegant resort. Each chapter provides at-a-glance information to a hike's length, difficulty, scenery, lodging information, and more, while detailed trail descriptions get you from one inn to another with confidence and style. Detailed profiles of suggested inns are also included, as well as local dining possibilities." --Amazon

Mystery Reader's Walking Guide, Washington, D.C. by Alzina Stone Dale.
Fascinating walks for mystery readers from Foggy Bottom to Alexandria revisit favorite book settings.

The Spirited Walker: Fitness Walking for Clarity, Balance, and Spiritual Connection by Carolyn Scott Kortge.
A champion racewalker explores fitness walking as a meditative experience that supports and improves awareness, spiritual renewal, and physical vitality.

Virginia Walks
The state's tourism division has printed a listing and description of walks available throughout the state. Some of these are sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.

Walking by Henry David Thoreau.
A meandering ode to the simple act and accomplished art of taking a walk. Profound and humorous, companionable and curmudgeonly. Walking, by America's first nature writer, is your personal and portable guide to the activity that, like no other, awakens the senses and soul to the 'absolute freedom and wildness' of nature.

Walking: A Complete Guide to Complete Exercise by Casey Meyers.
Exercise walking expert Casey Meyers explains that exercise walking is a healthful sport that can lower blood pressure, that results in no injuries, and that costs virtually nothing. In clear prose style and with diagrams, Meyers shows exactly how it can be done and gives commonsense tips on daily nutrition.

Walking in Baltimore: An Intimate Guide to the Old City by Frank R. Shivers, Jr.
Nearby "Charm City" has a lot to offer: a vibrant Inner Harbor, antique rows, and historical areas.

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit.
The author finds strong relationships throughout history between walking and thinking as well as walking and culture and argues for the importance of keeping places and times for such interludes in a busy, modern world.

On the Web

American Volkssport Association
The AVA administers a network of 550 walking clubs that host more than 3,000 events across the nation. Find a club near you and get details on volkssport/volksmarch programs.

Germanna Volkssport Association
Since 1989, the association has sponsored walks through historic and natural areas in the Rappahannock area. The planned walk for fall of 2004 takes place at Quantico Marine Corps Base. The annual spring event, now in its fifteenth year, tours downtown Fredericksburg. In addition to its two special events, you can also take advantage of their three year-round walks (YRE's) in Fredericksburg and Ashland that begin at the cities' visitor centers. You may certainly walk the areas, except the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, at no charge, but if you wish to receive credit, you will need to register first with the Germanna Volkssport Association.

Walking and Driving Tours
Seven walking tour brochures examine the history and architectural jewels of the City of Fredericksburg.

Walking for Exercise and Pleasure
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports gives wise words on walking.

Walking Tours Directory
Commercial and non-profit organizations give trip suggestions for travelers who want to make walking a featured part of their vacations.