Opting out: Hiking event aims to provide outdoor Black Friday alternative

Nov. 20—ANDERSON — Officials at the Red-tail Land Conservancy hope that instead of counting steps in crowded stores the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers will consider taking a walk.

The conservancy's Opt Outside Habitat Hike, planned for Friday afternoon at Smith-Crisler Nature Preserve at Fall Creek Woods, is connected with a nationwide movement to replace traditional Black Friday shopping with outdoor activities.

"After connecting with family and friends on Thanksgiving, it is a joy to take time and connect with nature," said Kelley Phillips, communications and outreach manager at the Red-tail Land Conservancy.

Phillips said fall colors at the nature preserve, located about 20 minutes from Anderson, are still vibrant and, with still-moderate temperatures, offer an ideal post-Thanksgiving alternative for families.

The Opt Outside hike, along an unpaved half-mile loop at the preserve, is unguided. Phillips said the trail includes slight inclines and scenic overlooks.

"The beauty of unguided wandering is that you can take your time to enjoy the woods and walk at your own pace," she said.

Red-tail is not requiring registration for the hike, and hikers are encouraged to bring a camera. Larger groups are also being encouraged to carpool. Naturalists will be stationed along the trail to share information about wildlife that can be seen in the nature preserve.

"The Opt Outside Habitat Hike is a special opportunity to spend time with friends and family in a beautiful nature preserve while speaking to naturalists and learning about wildlife," Phillips said.

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.