There’s no better time to have fun outdoors
Get going on foot, on bike, or on the water
With so many indoor activities either canceled or greatly restricted, a great way to navigate a world of distancing and limitations is to take to the great outdoors where it’s decidedly easier to avoid crowds if you’re mindful of the conditions.
Blaze a trail
One great way to get some exercise and enjoy our county’s beautiful trails is by participating in this year’s Allen County Trailblazers program.
Unlike previous years, the program will run for six months, ending on Dec. 31. Although there is a prize for completing the program — a medallion for a walking stick — the real gift is the nudge to visit a rotating slate of area trails from the many options available.
This year’s trails include Metea County Park, Fox Island County Park, and Payton County Park from the Allen County Park system, Fogwell Forest, Dustin Nature Preserve, and Mengerson Nature Preserve from the ACRES Land Trust, Eagle Marsh and Arrowhead Preserves from the Little River Wetlands Project, New Haven Rivergreenway/Moser Park and Haskamp Woods from New Haven Parks and Recreation, Buckner Park and Franke Park from Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, and Pufferbelly Trail and St. Mary’s Pathway from Fort Wayne Trails.
Most trails are rated as easy with a couple described as moderate, and the length of the trails vary from less than a mile to four miles. Twelve of the 14 trails allow pets on leashes, with only Little River Wetlands discouraging the practice.
To earn the coveted prize, hike 10 of the 14 by the end of 2020. Masks and distancing are encouraged, but for those familiar with many of these trails, keeping to oneself is not particularly challenging.
For a complete list of trail locations and links to the various trail and park systems, visit allencountrytrailblazers.org.
For those who prefer to navigate those trails on bike rather than foot, Trek the Trails returned this year providing more family-friendly rides which start at 6 p.m. every Tuesday evening through summer and into fall.
The remaining trails include Parkview Safety Store, Life Bridge Church, Swinney Park West Trailhead, Rockhill Park Trailhead, Moser Park Trailhead, Foster Park West/Winchester Road Trailhead, Salomon Farm Park, Johnny Appleseed Park, Covington Elementary School, Rockhill Park Trailhead, Tillman Park, Cookie Cottage, SportONE Fieldhouse Trailhead, Shoaff Park Trailhead, and North River Road Trailhead.
Most trails average eight to nine miles, and participants are asked to wear a helmet and bring water.
For more detailed information about the trails and dates for the treks, visit fwtrails.org.
Fling some discs
Golf has also proven to be a way to stay active while maintaining distance, but you can also add disc golf to the list.
The Fort Disc Golf Club is winding down its season, but there is one event coming this August. The Facebook page for the 35th Annual Three Rivers Open presented by DreamMakers Automotive describes the event and stipulates some current restrictions for the Aug. 29-30 event.
“This year, the tournament is once again a 3-round, 2-day event,” according to its press materials. “There are 144 available spots (44 professionals, 100 amateurs). Saturday, competitors will play two 18-hole rounds at West and East Swinney park. Sunday, all players will play one round at Fort Wayne’s championship level course — Tillman Park. For Sunday’s round, all players will be assigned a tee time based off Saturday’s results.
“The FDGC is excited to showcase Tillman and provide a unique experience for Indiana disc golfers.
“Due to COVID-19, the amateur side of the tournament will be trophy only (podium) with a stellar player’s pack, which will reduce the risk of contact for players.”
paddle on by
With three rivers from which to choose, kayaking and canoeing are excellent ways to get outdoors where social distancing is the norm rather than the exception.
There are numerous ways for beginners and those with experience to get out onto the rivers and enjoy the summer.
For those new to the sport or those who simply don’t have the equipment, visit fwoutfitters.com for complete price information and some tips on how to get started.
As of now, the 2020 Fort4Fitness is still on for Sept. 25-26 with some modifications (such as staggered start times and no post-race entertainment) to thin the crowds. There is also a virtual version for those who may not be comfortable joining the fray this year.
To review those options, visit fort4fitness.org. In fact many favorite races are switching to a virtual version and changes of this kind are taking place as races come closer to date. Please check ahead to see if there are changes to your summer and fall race plans.
explore the parks
Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation have a pared down version of their summer activities but many include ways for kids and adults to get outside and have some fun.
Summer Activity P.O.D.S. (Positive Outdoor Days of Summer) are designed for safety, social distance, and fun with weeklong half-day programs, providing kids with an opportunity to be active and engaged while learning something new.
With a schedule running through August 14 and a variety of different topics to tackle, groups no smaller than 10 but no larger than 16 can learn in a safe environment.
There are also a large array of hikes, fishing derbies, and nature activities planned throughout the city all summer long.
For the complete catalog, visit fortwayneparks.org for the listing of programs and registration costs and information for this summer’s Fun Times schedule.