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Impact: Trail Folx

Twice a year through our Paw It Forward program, we donate to organizations in four categories that align with our values: dog adoption, working dogs, land conservation, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the outdoors.

Learn more about Trail Folx, one of our most recent Paw It Forward recipients. Trail Folx is a nonprofit organization creating opportunities for Los Angeles’ underprivileged and underserved youth to participate in mountain sports.

Instagram post from Trail Folx showing a selfie group shot of a running group

For Ruffwear Ambassador Marcus Rentie and his siblings, growing up in the nineties and seeing a pair of African American brothers on the ice hockey team in the 1992 Disney film The Mighty Ducks showed them that they could play hockey, too. Hockey led to rollerblading, snowboarding, rock climbing, and an array of other outdoor activities that continue to shape them today.

Skiing trips were not something that Marcus’s parents had gotten to experience growing up, due to safety, logistical, and financial barriers — American mountain towns were not safe for a Black family in the sixties.

Thanks to his parents’ support and sacrifices, as well as the generosity of friends and neighbors, Marcus and his brother and sister were exposed to mountain sports that previous generations in his family were not.

Today, as the Executive Director of Trail Folx, Marcus (with his canine sidekick Batman always nearby) is working to remove barriers and expand those same opportunities to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and inner city youth living in Southern California.

Instagram post from Trail Folx showing a person and dog posing with a sign that says fabulous

Some of the barriers that Trail Folx is addressing include logistical (transportation and access), safety, and financial (including access and gear costs). Trail Folx is seeking to work with resorts and ski areas, race directors, retailers and gear companies to provide free or low-cost access to mountain sports.

The goal is to increase representation in outdoor sports so that more and more kids can learn about, and participate in, outdoor activities and environmental stewardship.

Currently, Trail Folx provides weekly group runs and is working to offer regular mountain bike rides, hikes, and climbing gym meet-ups. These regular events help develop and strengthen bonds within the local community while bringing diversity to the area’s trails and outdoor activities.

Trail Folx is also working to introduce youth to mountain sports like outdoor bouldering and sport climbing, skiing and snowboarding, and outdoor education by organizing trips and providing gear, transportation, guided experiences, and a safe learning environment.

In addition to exposing participants to new outdoor activities and experiences, Trail Folx is taking an approach that focuses on wildlife education, first aid, and leave no trace practices.

Instagram post from Trail Folx showing a selfie group shot of a running group

This holistic approach not only introduces people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to the outdoors and mountain sports, it kindles participants’ passion for the outdoors while demonstrating the importance of stewardship and protection of outdoor spaces for future generations.

Teaching someone to rock climb, for example, might open up other possibilities for them, such as becoming a rock climbing guide, studying geology or earth sciences, pursuing wilderness medicine, or simply creating a lifestyle around outdoor recreation. The possibilities are truly endless. For now, Trail Folx is working toward introducing youth to the outdoors that exists just beyond their doorstep.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can participate in regular group runs with Trail Folx or volunteer with its outreach program. You can also support the organization by contributing new or gently used gear or by making a financial contribution. The organization’s biggest hurdle at the moment is transportation, and they are working to purchase a passenger van that will help expand outreach and provide access to event participants.