The New Hiking Trails thought Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Sveiki! Hej! Hello!
I’m Anna-Sara from Sweden and one of my big passions is hiking. After finishing high school I decided to explore the world a bit and I went to New Zealand where my hiking experience started. Fun fact: there are more sheep than people living in New Zealand.
After my small adventure in New Zealand, I started to study Landscape architecture. During the studies, I learned about how nature is affecting human well-being positively and how outdoor recreation in some cases can replace medicine. Outdoor recreation has become more and more important in our stressful modern life and that is one of the reasons why access to nature is so important.
I was lucky to discover the project about the new hiking trails going through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I thought it sounded super interesting and now I’m in Riga, an Interreg volunteer at Latvian country tourism association Lauku ceļotājs, sent by the organization “Association of European Border Regions”.
The goals for the projects are to increase the number of visitors to the project area in the Baltics by developing cross-border long distance hiking paths. Nature is one of the key resources for tourism development in the Baltic States and the project partners hope that with help of the trails the overnight stays in rural areas will increase and that restaurants, transport services, local shops, and others along the trail will receive more visitors and benefit the local economy.
During my first weeks, I have been working with the Baltic Forest trail (2141 km) and the Baltic Coastal hiking trail (1420 km). The Baltic forest trail is part of the E11 European long distance path (4700 km) which runs through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The Baltic Forest trail starts from the Polish – Lithuanian border near the town Lazdijai, leads through Latvia and the capital city Riga, and finishes in Tallin, Estonia. The whole route takes 102- 114 days to complete. I managed some parts of it.
Then there is also the Baltic Coastal Trail which is part of the E9 European long distance path. In the Baltics, the trail is stretching for 1420 km along the Baltic Sea coast which takes about 70-72 days to finish. The trail starts at the Lithuanian-Russian border in the village of Nida in Lithuania, leads through Latvia, and finishes at the Port of Tallinn in Estonia.
The trails are divided into about 20 km long sections with accommodation and transport options along the trail so you can do a one-day hike or combine sections to a longer hike and explore the nature in the Baltics.
There have been marking events where people have walked along the trail with a bucked of paint and helped with the marking. Those marking events were done to involve locals and let them get to know the trail and the surroundings. For the organizer, it was important that the people living in the surrounding like the new trail.
My tasks during the past weeks have been to contact different travel agencies and outdoor magazines around Europe to spread the news about the Baltic trails. I have also added information to the homepage (Baltictrails.eu) and different hiking applications to make the information about the trails more accessible for everyone.
So far, my IVY experiences have been great and it is something I would recommend everyone to do. It has given me a better insight into how much important work the EU is doing for the people and environment. There are interesting projects all over Europe and it is a great chance to get your first experience in cross-border projects and contribute with your knowledge!
Anna-Sara Reinisch, Interreg Project Partner at Latvian Country Tourism Association Lauku Celotajs for Hiking Project