Logging 30 miles on Two Feet!
By Marylou LaRose | June 2, 2021
30 miles in a month? Yes, you can! Are you one of those people who makes a resolution in January that is all forgotten by mid March? Usually, that is me, but not this year! I was so tired of being at home when all my usual activities became unavailable. I sat at home and gained weight. I did not catch Covid 19, I gained the quarantine 35! I found that some of my friends were feeling the same way. Together we decided to start walking. Separately! We could each be on our own two feet, sometimes on a Zoom call or in a Facebook room, but together we started walking!
The hardest part was just getting started. I knew I needed to get moving, walking seemed like the perfect activity. I chose a day, a place, and a time to begin. A Wednesday morning on the trail that circles Jefferson County Health Center. It is a .9 mile flat trail with easy access to restrooms and a few exercise sites along the way to challenge balance or upper body strength. I walked the whole thing twice the first time. It got so I was there two or three times a week.
Then I needed more of a challenge. I started walking at Chautauqua Park. There are two hills that make this trail a bit more strenuous an activity than the JCHC loop. But I missed seeing the water feature. Then I discovered my favorite trail.
The Sauntering Prairie Trail at the end of S 23rd Street. This trail is the perfect place for me to stop during a day filled with appointments and errands in town where there are gaps of available time for a little exercise. The loop is about a mile and takes me 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It loops around a pretty pond and goes along timber that is the northernmost edge of the Jefferson County Conservation area.
There is even access to the Cedar Valley Trail if you have more time and are feeling adventurous. You get a whole new perspective on Fairfield as you walk passed woodlands and across S 32nd St. There is a bridge over Hwy 34 that my grandchildren love to stop on and give the trucker's horn bent arm pumping plea to Semis passing underneath us. Almost every driver will HONK a salute in return! Further on is a bridge over the Cedar Creek that is unexpectedly high and another favorite spot of the grandkids. They love to toss in leaves and watch them float underneath or toss in small stones to hear them PLUNK as they hit the water so far below.
The trail ends on Ivory Drive just off S 223rd St, and off of Libertyville Road. Just a guess, but I would say the walk from Sauntering Prairie Loop to Ivory Drive and back is about 5 miles and at my pace takes just under 2 hours.
There are so many spots along the trail system with smaller loops adjacent to the larger almost 15 mile long trek that completely encircles Fairfield. I have ridden my bicycle on the whole thing and it will take some time before I can say I actually enjoy that. I will stick to logging my miles on my own two feet for now. There are trail maps available at many locations along the trail, in the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, at the Library, and information is also to be found on the Visit Fairfield Facebook page.