Trail Mix

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This article appears in the September issue of Iowa Momentum Endurance Sports magazine. Photos by Dylan Huey of Huey Photography.

Are you tired of stoplights, traffic, and the noise from road and street construction interfering with your walking, running, or biking routine? If you’ve found yourself along the same route all summer now is the perfect time to change it up by exploring local trails! When taking your workout off the beaten path there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure safety.

Map It: Did you know the Des Moines metro has over 550 miles of trails and there are 52 trails just in Des Moines proper? While there is something fun and mysterious about exploring new territory without a plan, it’s best to consult a map or trail guide before heading out. That way you have a general idea of where trails start and end and if there are any points along the way where you can hop off if need be. If you take your trail adventure several steps further and into the woods, orient yourself so you know which direction you’re facing and consider staying on parts of the trail that have been created for recreation.

Keep Time: Another reason it is good to consult a map prior to going out is so that you know approximately how long it might take to get where you’re going. As fall approaches and the sun sets earlier in the evening, remember that you have less daylight than you’re used to. Avoid trails in the dark and let someone know your anticipated route and what time you think you’ll be back.

Bug Off: Exercisers are more attractive to mosquitoes because when you exercise, you produce more C02 and your temperature increases, two factors that attract mosquitos. So before you go, put on your sunscreen and whatever it is that you use to ward away the bugs. Upon returning, do a tick-check to make sure none are trying to make your body their home.

If you can, inquire with people you know who use the trails and see what is best for the activity you want to do. Some trails might be perfect for bikes but not running or walking. You should also check for trail closures and be especially careful for washed out trails after heavy rains.

Visit the Des Moines Parks and Rec website www.dmparks.org for help in planning your next outdoor adventure! F52T0285