Widen Your Walking Horizons
If you like to walk you are not alone. Among people who exercise regularly, walking is by far the most popular activity. There are good reasons for that. There’s a lot to be said for an exercise that can be done anywhere, at any time, by almost anyone, and doesn’t require a lot of equipment or special clothing.
Finding a place to walk is as easy as opening your front door, and while your neighborhood or local park are great for your daily walk, I thought I would focus on some lesser known trails. A couple of these would be excellent destinations for a longer weekend hike. Here are a few of my favorites:
Westwood Trails/Eberly Park
If you live in Sterling, you don’t have to go far for a walk in the woods. Just behind building #3 at the Sterling Park District’s Westwood Fitness Center is the access point for Westwood Trails. This paved trail makes a loop through the woods and around a small pond. To extend your walk you can follow an offshoot to Lynn Boulevard, cross the road at the new roundabout and take the sidewalk to Eberly Park where another unpaved trail winds through the wooded area. You can download a map of these two trails and others at www.sterlingparks.org/trails.
Joe Stengel Trail
This trail is part of the national Rails to Trails system and can be accessed in Woosung or Polo. Parking is available near the trailhead in both towns. The trail follows an old railroad bed, and it’s designated as multi-use, so may be used by walkers, bikers, horse riders, and in the wintertime by snowmobilers. This trail is not paved. The surface is mostly gravel and dirt, but it’s a nice smooth path with no hills; an easy walk for most people. You can find more information about the Stengel trail and other trails of this type at www.traillink.com.
The Nachusa Grasslands
Protected by The Nature Conservancy, the Nachusa Grasslands is a 3800 acre preserve consisting of prairie, woodlands, and wetlands. Volunteers work hard to protect this endangered eco-system, but the public can hike several trails of various lengths. There is parking at the information center and access to a couple of short trails from there. Other trails start in various locations. Another feature of the area is the bison herd which can sometimes be viewed from the roadside. Take binoculars! Visit www.nachusagrasslands.org for directions and to see a map of the trails.
Springtime is a great time to grab your shoes and a friend and head out the door to explore. I love to walk, so maybe I’ll see you out there!