FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – If you haven't begun, it's time to get outside and have a little fun. There’s a free outdoor activity put on by the City of Fort Wayne called, Trek the Trails.
Fort Wayne Greenways Manager Dawn Ritchie says Trek the Trails is an informal tour of the more than 70 miles of trail ways throughout Fort Wayne, which began in May and will go on until October.
Every Tuesday bike riders meet at different trail heads and ride 6 – 8 mi. exploring the pathways. Trails include the River Greenway, St. Joe Pathway, the Wabash and eerie Canal Towpath trails, the Pufferbelly Rail-to-Trail, and the Salomon farm trail.
Ritchie says it's not just a great way to get to know the city, but also to reconnect with nature, socialize and of course exercise. "It provides a tremendous networking opportunity for people who love to be outdoors. It also gets our citizens active, and that's important too. We want active lifestyles, we want to improve the quality of life for Fort Wayne and Allen County residents,” she said.
Marla Williams, affectionately known by her fellow riders as “Pinky” for her matching pink bike and helmet says she’s been attending the program for the past three years. Williams says she originally got into it because her doctor advised she exercise more often, but she says she’s gotten more out of it than just a healthier lifestyle. "Before I started I didn't know parts of the city that I grew up in, I grew up here in Fort Wayne. I was really surprised at the different trails around the city and around the river and I had never seen that before,” Williams said. “Going around the rivers here is so beautiful, I recommend it to everybody. You just don’t know what your city has until you do something like this.”
In 2012, more than 480 thousand people used the trails. Ritchie says this is the fourth year for the Trek the Trails program and it grows in popularity every year. In fact, on the second Tuesday of every month, Ritchie says they hold a "mixer,” where vendors serve food and people can hike a two-mile trail. Ritchie says no membership fee is required, but people can come out and enjoy themselves for free.
Whether you’re hiking or biking, Fort Wayne officials remind people to be safe on the trails with these safety tips:
• Be sure to wear bright-colored clothing. Some trails lead to or partially intersect with roads.
Wearing bright clothes will make you visible to drivers and others along the trail.
• Go with a friend. You never know what can happen and there is power in numbers.
• Do your activity during the daylight hours. If the sun is setting, you should probably leave.
• Have a whistle and cell phone handy. If you get hurt or stranded on the trail, you can alert someone of your location and for assistance.
• When wearing headphones, wear only one or turn your music low. That will make you better aware of your surroundings.
• Avoid constantly talking or texting on your phone. This will eliminate any distractions and allow you to pay better attention to your surroundings.
“Every time we talk about personal safety, we talk about being aware of your surroundings and being alert. That is going to provide you with some response time, so that when you see a dangerous situation or you're coming upon a dangerous situation you have more time to respond rather than to be caught off guard,” said Officer Raquel Foster with the Fort Wayne Police Department.
Although Foster suggests doing all your activity during the daylight hours, she says there is no need to be afraid while on the trails because attacks rarely ever happen.
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