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Footprints + Freetrail: We’re Getting Hitched!

Share the trail love:
Dakota Jones

By: Dakota Jones

Dakota is a student, an activist, a professional runner, and the director of Footprints Running.

Trail runners spend a lot of time and energy moving through mountains and wild places. Being outside is a major part of what makes our sport so special, and this helps us develop intimate familiarity with the landscapes we run through. So it’s no coincidence that we’re often the first witnesses to changes in the environments we know best. As climate change progresses, a lot of people want to take action but don’t know how.

That’s why we at Footprints and Freetrail are teaming up: to help people understand and act on these issues.

Footprints is the climate action incubator that Dakota started in 2020 with the help of an all-star cast of scientists and activists. We host running camps in Colorado, Vermont, and (as of 2023) Australia, and we help trail runners bring ideas for collective climate action to life. Our mission is to serve as an incubator for these ideas, surrounding our participants with the knowledge, community, and connections they need to turn an idea into a reality or scale up their existing impact.

We believe everyone has unique skills and connections that can be used for positive action on climate change, but most people don’t know where to start. The answer is simple: start where you are, with what you know already, and create a project that involves the people you know in your community.

We host these events as running camps because running is the social glue that brings us together. When we’re running or hiking each day, people talk, relax, think, and dream. Everyone in the Freetrail community recognizes the special connections that come from spending quality time on the trails.

Runners gather for conversation during a Footprints camp in 2022
PC: Max Romey

But now, Footprints is at an inflection point.

Not everyone can come to a week-long camp, but everyone can take action for the trails and communities they know best. Our next phase is to more thoroughly fulfill our aspiration to be a holistic incubator for climate action. This means that in addition to our immersive camps, we’re creating a host of other ways for people to engage with climate action -and Freetrail is helping us make this happen. We’ll be posting articles on all aspects of climate action and the intersection of trail running and climate on the Freetrail site. Our whole Footprints community will be part of the Freetrail fam, engaging with folks on the community Slack channel. And we’ll be hosting monthly webinars where we bring on our participants, mentors, and other thought leaders to discuss specific types of climate action.

We want to provide opportunities for everyone in the Freetrail fam to get involved with climate action. More importantly, we want to hear from you all. What are you concerned about? What project ideas would you like to bring to life? Do you know people or organizations who could provide expert advice and support to the projects we support? What are we missing? Footprints is successful because we are a group effort. We can be a platform to empower everyone, and everyone is welcome.

It’s an exciting new chapter for us. Freetrail adds incredible value to the support we can give people, in the same way as our other partners like Protect Our Winters, Patagonia, and the Honnold Foundation do. We can’t wait to share our journey with you all and get you involved.

Dylan likes to joke that “trail running will save the world.” Well, we’re living proof that it can, and the evidence is growing stronger every day.

Stoked to be on this journey with you all. See you on the trails.

Dakota Jones

Fostering conversations during the 2022 Footprints Running Camp
PC: Max Romey

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