Diversity & Inclusion Resources

The Partnership for the National Trails System aspires to champion a culture of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion to cultivate greater strength and resilience within and beyond our network as we welcome all to protect, enjoy, and support the National Trails System. This effort may never be perfect, but the Partnership is committed to making the National Trails System safe and welcoming to all people.

We respectfully ask all trail advocates and enthusiasts to join us in investing time in broadening our understanding of systemic racism. We are compiling resources to help us all become more aware, informed, and better equipped to take action. Please note this is not an exhaustive list. Entries are alphabetized by title. 

Do you have a resource to share here? Please email communication@pnts.org.


Points of view

Articles, books, podcasts, and videos about experiencing the outdoors from the perspectives of people of color. 

  • African American Explorations
  • Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (2014)
    • By Carolyn Finney, PhD, Author, Storyteller, and Cultural Geographer. Carolyn explores how issues of difference impacts participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.  
      • Carolyn was a keynote speaker and Next 100 Coalition panelist at the 2018 National Trails System Conference on the topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on National Trails. Learn more here.
      • Carolyn was quoted in this news article, “Black Bird Watchers Draw Attention to Racial Issues Outdoors,” from June 2020, saying: “Systemic racism doesn’t stop at the park gates. I’ve backpacked all over the world. … There are places in this country I would never go on my own. It is my loss. I just don’t trust the public.”
  • Diversity is Not a Hashtag: An Open Letter to the Outdoor Community (June 2020)
    • By Amiththan Sebarajah, an Appalachian Trail hiker, shares what it’s like to experience racism and acknowledges the historical context of the conversation.
  • How This Hiker Encourages The Black Community To Reclaim Nature
    • Video featuring Katina Grays, Outdoor Afro leader in New York City, for the September 2019 Today Show. Outdoor Afro is an organization dedicated to increasing African-American leadership and community in nature and conservation. Katina builds community and increases diversity in outdoor recreation by sharing her love of hiking with others.
  • How Outdoor Companies Can Back Up Their DEI Pledges (September 2020)
    • By Kai Lightner, who shares his experiences as a Black professional climber and maps out how the outdoor community can build successful diversity and inclusion initiatives. 
  • I Walked from Selma to Montgomery (April 2018)
    • By Rahawa Haile, who walked the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in 2017 “because walking felt like the only way to process my despair after the election.”
      • Rahawa Haile is an Eritrean American writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, the New Yorker, Outside Magazine, and Pacific Standard. In Open Country, her memoir about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, explores what it means to move through America and the world as a black woman and is forthcoming from Harper. 
  • Justice and Equality
    • Video featuring Charles Thomas, Executive Director of Outward Bound Adventures, during the 2019 International Trails Symposium and Training Institute.
  • Meet Michela Williams of Black Too Earth
    • Q/A with Michela Williams, Co-Founder of Black Too Earth, which connects black people with black environmental organizations through site visits and volunteer opportunities. 
      • Michela was also featured in this Pathways Project video by the Joy Trip Project while serving as a U.S. Forest Service employee in 2019. As a PNTS Trail Apprentice, Michela also gave a Trail Talks presentation (32:50-41:00) at the 2018 National Trails System Conference, titled, “Demystifying the Outdoors: Exploring How the Beauty of the Outdoors Can Be Barriers or Main Attractions.” 
  • Meet the first two African-American Triple Crowners: Will “Akuna” Robinson and Elsye “Chardonnay” Walker.
    • Thru-Hiking While Black webinar with Will and Elsye and the ALDHA-West in 2020. The outdoors is not an apolitical space. While many of us picture nature as a complete escape from our day-to-day lives, for some among us, our frontcountry context travels with us when we head out into the backcountry. In a moment where the US is openly grappling with the way white-body supremacy affects the lived experience of Black people, ALDHA-West invites you to join them. This conversation, facilitated by Amanda “Zuul” Jameson, will be a chance to learn more about what these two Triple Crowners are thinking and feeling in the wake of their accomplishments — and in this unique cultural moment.
    • Trailblazers virtual conversation with Will and Elsye and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition as part of the CDT Virtual Trail Days event in 2020.   
    • Article by Elsye about thru-hiking, featured on the CDTC website in 2020.
    • Video featuring Will about thru-hiking as a veteran, created by Merrell in 2019.
  • Missions & Tribes: Including Native Perspectives in the Historical Record
    • Webinar recording from American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association’s (AIANTA) Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Webinar Series featuring Andrew A. Galvan, Curator, Old Mission Dolores, San Francisco and Naomi Torres, Superintendent, Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail. Andrew shares his experience with reconciling the history of tribes with the California Mission’s stories and how curators of Native American history can present a more complete version of history.
  • Summit Seekers: Telling Our Own Story on the Trail
    • By Frederick L. Tutman, D.C. Ambassador for the 2017 Summit Seekers Inaugural Program, an intergenerational outdoor leadership training program designed to foster inclusion and engagement of communities of color with traditional outdoor recreation and promote environmental stewardship.
      • This article was published in the Fall 2017 Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Journeys magazine and republished in the Spring 2018 Partnership for the National Trails System Pathways Across America magazine.
  • The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors (2014)
    • By James Edward Mills, Author, Journalist, Founder of the Joy Trip Project, Ice Age Trail Alliance Board Member, and Faculty Assistant at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute For Environmental Studies who teaches a summer course for undergraduate students on diversity, equity and inclusion in outdoor recreation and public land management called Outdoors For All.
      • The Joy Trip Project is a newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living. Follow along on the blog and listen to the podcast series.
      • James was featured in this video, “People of Color in the Great Outdoors,” for SNEWS in July 2020, in which he discusses ideas presented in his book, “The Adventure Gap,” which examines racial and socioeconomic disparities in outdoor recreation.
      • James wrote the article, “Here’s How National Parks Are Working to Fight Racism,” for National Geographic in June 2020. The article shares that efforts are underway to make the outdoors more inclusive, but many Black travelers are still cautious to embrace America’s “best idea.”
      • James wrote the opinion article, “Built on Smoke,” for SNEWS in June 2020. The 31-year veteran of the outdoor industry offers a personal history of race relations in the action sports business and considers whether current activism is setting the stage for lasting change.
      • James wrote the article, “Greater Accountability: The outdoor industry has risen to speak out about racial injustice, but how is it making outdoor spaces safer for Black people?” for The OR Weekly in June 2020. 
      • James created the podcast and wrote the blog post, “Greening Youth: A Conversation with DEI Subject Matter Experts,” in January 2020. 
      • James also wrote the article, “No Pain, No Change,” for SNEWS in June 2019, showing how mistakes will be made on the way toward a more diverse outdoor community. But James sees progress where others see only problems. The article also includes steps your company can take to be more inclusive.
  • The Anxiety of Hiking While Black
    • By Aaron Jones, Marjorie Leach-Parker, and Tiffany Tharpe, published in The Guardian in July 2018. These three African American hikers describe fears and stereotypes they have faced in the woods – and why they love hitting the trails.
  • The Melanin Base Camp Guide to Outdoor Allyship
    • By Danielle Williams, Founder of Melanin Base Camp, which aims to #diversifyoutdoors by increasing the visibility of outdoorsy black, indigenous, people of color, to increase our representation in the media, advertising and in the stories we tell ourselves about the outdoors.
  • The Trauma of Systemic Racism is Killing Black Women. A First Step Toward
    • By T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, founders of the health nonprofit GirlTrek, who are on a mission to reduce the leading causes of preventable death among Black women — and build communities in the process. This TedTalk from 2017 shares how: by getting one million women and girls to prioritize their self-care, lacing up their shoes and walking in the direction of their healthiest, most fulfilled lives.
      • Learn about the nonprofit’s first 21-day Black History Bootcamp walking mediation series by reading this NPR article, “GirlTrek Uses Black Women’s History To Encourage Walking As A Healing Tradition,” from 2020.
  • Voices Along the Lewis & Clark Trail
    • Webinar recording from American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA). This webinar featured Native American perspectives of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Bicentennial and emphasized “the importance of participating in and presenting tribal voices in the retelling of history and how this can help drive economic growth through cultural heritage tourism”. Speakers included Otis Halfmoon (Nez Perce), Retired National Park Service and Pow Wow Master of Ceremonies; Allen Pinkham, Sr. (Nez Perce), Historian and Storyteller, Former Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribe; and Dan Wiley, Senior Leader, Resources Stewardship with Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, NPS.
  • Why Every Environmentalist Should Be Anti-Racist
  • Why Race Matters When We Talk About the Environment
    • Q/A with Dr. Robert Bullard, scholar, activist, and the father of environmental justice, in this 2018 Greenpeace article about why race is always the most significant factor behind injustice of any kind, and who he sees as the new leaders pushing equality to the forefront of the environmental movement.

Related organizations

We are compiling a list of organizations and communities focused on promoting diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion in the outdoors.

  • Backyard Basecamp inspires Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color (BIPOC) across Baltimore City to find nature where they are and empowering them to explore further.
  • Big City Mountaineers breaks down barriers to youth access to the outdoors by partnering with local youth agencies to provide fully-outfitted, professionally-led, no-cost backcountry trips for our students.
  • Black Girls Trekkin’ promotes diversity in the outdoors and focuses on the principles of representation, diversity and inclusion, education, and conservation.
  • Black Outside seeks to not only diversify the outdoors but also unleash a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts reflective of our country and state’s beautiful diversity by expanding access, programming, and relevancy to both Black and Brown communities across Texas.
  • Black Too Earth connects black people with black environmental organizations through site visits and volunteer opportunities.
  • Blackpackers provides gear, outdoor excursions, and outdoor education for free or at subsidized cost in Colorado, and connects participants with volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs, and post-secondary education resources to create a pipeline from outdoor recreation to outdoor industry careers.
  • Camber Outdoors supports workplace inclusion, equity, and diversity in the active-outdoor industries.
  • Color Outside helps women of color harness the power of the outdoors to create the JOY-filled, balanced lives they crave through coaching, workshops, and one-of-a-kind retreats. Learn more in this 2020 article from The Trek.
  • Disabled Hikers envisions an outdoors culture transformed by fair representation, accessibility, and justice for disabled and all other marginalized outdoors people.
  • Ecoinclusive supports the creation of healthy and diverse organizational and community  ecosystems.
  • GirlTrek is pioneering a health movement for African-American women and girls grounded in civil rights history and principles through walking campaigns, community leadership, and health advocacy. 
  • Greening Youth Foundation engages underrepresented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation.
  • Inclusive Journeys works to identify safe and welcoming spaces for all. Its first project is the Digital Green Book, where users will be able to submit business locations they feel safe in, business owned/operated by people by marginalized identities. Also available would be resources to help businesses self-audit for inclusiveness, resources to help businesses improve, referrals to diversity, equity, and inclusivity trainers.
  • Indigenous Women Hike share the journey of reclaiming ancestral trade routes and healing through their inherent connection to the land to make outdoor recreation accessible to all.
  • In Solidarity Project includes The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, which pairs leading outdoor brands in one-on-one relationships with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the industry, and the African American Nature and Parks Experience, which works to create a more equitable and inclusive outdoor industry.
  • Joy Trip Project is a newsgathering and reporting organization that covers outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living, and diversity.
  • Latino Outdoors inspires, connects, and engages Latino communities in the outdoors and embraces cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring our history, heritage, and leadership are valued and represented.
  • LatinXhikers is a community dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors through digital story-telling and community outreach.
  • Melanin Base Camp aims to #diversifyoutdoors by increasing the visibility of outdoorsy black, indigenous, people of color, to increase our representation in the media, advertising and in the stories we tell ourselves about the outdoors. 
  • Native Land Digital maps out Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages to bring about discussions of colonization, land rights, language, and Indigenous history tied to our personal histories.
  • Native Women’s Wilderness inspires and raises voices of Native women in the outdoor realm, encourages a healthy lifestyle grounded in the wilderness, and educates Natives and non-Natives on the rich beauty and heritage of the ancestral lands beneath our feet.
  • Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature, letting people know that they are welcome in the outdoors to build community and find healing.
  • Outdoor Journal Tour, which launched #wehiketoheal (June 21-27, 2020), is a community built for women to facilitate personal growth and alignment, using a beautiful combination of physical activity, guided journaling, and meditation to help women create this balance.
  • Outdoor Outreach, a San Diego based nonprofit that utilizes the outdoors to inspire youth to see possibility and opportunity in their lives. Learn more in this interview with Lexus Morrow.
  • Outdoors Alliance for Kids advocates for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth, and families to connect with the outdoors.
  • Outward Bound Adventures uses nature-based, environmental education and backpacking, wilderness travel, camping, hiking and natural resource restoration projects to expose underserved youth to careers in conservation as well as to upgrade academic and social skills.
  • Out There Adventures is an adventure education organization committed to fostering positive identity development, individual empowerment, and improved quality of life for queer young people through professionally facilitated experiential education activities.
  • Pride Outside is an LGBT outdoor community: hiking, biking, paddling, and more!
  • Queer Nature is a queer-run nature education and ancestral skills program serving the local LGBTQ2+ community.
  • TheBlackOutdoors increases awareness of and participation in outdoor recreational activity amongst black people and other underrepresented groups.
  • Unlikely Hikers is a diverse and inclusive Instagram community featuring the underrepresented outdoorsperson.
  • Venture Out Project provides a safe and fun space for queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ people  to experience the outdoors and provides education and support that helps schools affirm their LGBTQ+ community members.  Check out this Q&A with founder Perry Cohen from SNEWS in March 2020.
  • Wild Diversity welcomes and creates a sense of belonging in the outdoors for the BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities by hosting outdoor adventures, providing outdoor education, and facilitating community workshops.
  • Youth Outside strives to ensure that the lived experience of all youth is honored as part of the outdoor experience and provides grantmaking, capacity building, and training to promote healthy lives and inspire future champions of the planet.

Anti-racism and diversity resources for allies

Related webinars, trainings, and virtual town hall meetings have been included on our Webinars page.

  • Ally Resource Guide shared by the Next 100 Coalition in June 2020.  
    • This document will continue to be updated with the following levels of engagement: registering to vote, ways to donate (various organizations/funds), petitions to sign, representatives and officials to contact, anti-racism resources to listen to,  watch, and/or read, and other anti-racism resources guides.

Trails community statements

PNTS will continue to add more statements in response to recent events from organizations in the trails community as they become available.