From families to outdoor enthusiasts, this year’s Great Outdoor Week has something for everyone. Redesigned with safety in mind in light of the COVID pandemic, the outdoor sampler will span 9 days this year, September 19-27, at venues throughout Greater Cincinnati. At this year’s event participants can explore a Greenspace Gem, bike or hike on one (or more) of the region’s trails or enjoy nature programming at some of the top outdoor outlets Greater Cincinnati has to offer.
“The outdoors are open!” declared Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella, the region’s environmental sustainability alliance. “With essential measures like wearing a mask and physical distancing when around others, it’s safe and beneficial to get outside and enjoy the beauty that our region’s outdoor spaces have to offer. This year especially, Great Outdoor Week offers families and individuals alike a much needed respite from being cooped up inside.”
In an effort to encourage safety, this year’s programming includes a wide variety of both in-person events and self-guided activities for people of all ages designed to highlight the region’s outdoor recreation venues, many of which have faced major challenges with the cancellation of revenue-generating programming. Generally, Great Outdoor Weekend sees crowds of 10,000 people at locations around the region. The event will look different in its 17th year. Events will be spread out over 9 days to decrease crowds while still accommodating the high number of curious nature lovers eager to take part. Participants can utilize an interactive map to identify participating locations to explore or, if interested, structured programs and events in which to participate.
Additionally, this year’s programming also includes Breakfast on the Bridge, a staple event for bicycle enthusiasts to celebrate National Bike to Work Day on Friday, September 25. Between 7-9 AM, bicyclists can bring-your-own breakfast to the Purple People Bridge and grab a free coffee. “More people are out biking than ever before,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails at Green Umbrella. “Even if you’re not biking to work, we encourage you to change up your ‘new normal’ commute and celebrate all things bicycling with us on the Purple People Bridge.”
As always, Great Outdoor Week happens in conjunction with National Public Lands Day on September 26. The nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort, each year NPLD celebrates greenspace by encouraging environmental stewardship. In Greater Cincinnati, attendees can celebrate by visiting a Greenspace Gem, one of 30 protected greenspaces recognized by Green Umbrella for its unique natural qualities. Often protected as the result of public will, these areas range from a once contaminated uranium processing plant to an urban gem that offers city-dwellers a chance to see a variety of wildlife right in the city center.
Great Outdoor Week is made possible by generous sponsorships from the Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society, Cincinnati Magazine and others.