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In the state of Kentucky, we have 52 state parks. Each state park offers a different view of the treasures in our state. There are few sights more spectacular than the changing of the colors of the leaves in the fall. What a great time to get outside and observe the beauty of our state and get some physical activity, too.
There are more than 300 miles of trails and they are for all types of hikers. There are easy and moderate trails, such as the half-mile, self-guided trail at the Columbus-Belmont State Park.
There are also many choices for those with more hiking experience, such as the 28-mile trail at the Pine Mountain Trail State park, known for strenuous climbs and breathtaking views.
Just as with walking, hiking can help in weight-loss goals. It can help decrease blood pressure and improve bone strength. Hiking is something that every age group can participate in, and because there is so much to see while you are on the trail, it is sure to be entertaining.
If you have a family hike, have a mini scavenger hunt and take pictures of all the different wildlife you will see.
Whichever trail you choose, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
• Follow all written and posted trail rules — they are there to help keep you safe.
• Do not hike alone.
• Take plenty of water. Even if it is cool outside, your body still needs fluids.
• Know the level of the trail and be aware of your ability to hike it. If you have not been physically active in a while, take an easy hike.
• Wear good socks and shoes. They will help avoid blistering.
• Dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be this time of year.
• Let others know where you are going and when you expect to return. You may not get cell phone reception. If you are not back when you should be, someone can alert the park staff.
When you are out on the trails, please keep the following in mind:
• Take your time.
• Be careful when hiking up and down the hills, especially if they are covered in gravel or loose dirt.
• Watch your step if you are crossing a stream. Rocks in the stream can be very slippery.
• Do not leave trash behind.
To enjoy the beauty at a state park and get exercise while you are doing it, find a state park near you. A list of parks is available on-line at the Kentucky State Parks web page at http://parks.ky.gov.
Reference: Kentucky State Parks. Explore hiking. Accessed on January 5, 2010 at http://parks.ky.gov/explore/exploreHiking.htm
Source: Nicole Peritore, Program Coordinator for Get Moving Kentucky, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.