Health & Medical Resources Guide
Herald Journal Health & Medical Resources Guide
published July 2010
Local trails are true treasures for good health
By Starrla Cray, Staff Writer
They may not be paved with gold, but trails provide rich enjoyment for people all over Wright, McLeod, and Carver counties.
“I walk here every day,” said one Howard Lake resident as she strolled along the Luce Line Trail near Winsted Lake. “It’s nice to unwind.”
Walking about 4-and-a-half miles a day is a good way to stay in shape for her job as a corrections officer.
“We have to be physically fit,” she said.
The local trails are more enjoyable to walk on than the ones in the Twin Cities, she added.
“No one usually bothers you,” she said. “There’s just enough traffic; someone usually walks by every few minutes.”
One amenity that she would like to see is the addition of more portable bathrooms at different points along the trails.
All in all, though, she said going on the trails is one of her favorite ways to exercise.
“It’s a better atmosphere than the gym,” she said. “I like hearing the birds and seeing nature.”
Abbie Pawelk, whose parents have a farm near Watertown, also enjoys spending time on the trails.
“I’ve walked from Plymouth to Watertown before,” she said. The 26-mile walk from her home in Plymouth took about eight hours.
For that long walk, Pawelk was with her mother, but she usually exercises with her 8-month-old puppy, Tug.
She jogs or walks between four to eight miles almost every day.
“I gained 20 pounds over the winter,” Pawelk said, explaining that the trails are helping her to lose weight and stay in shape.
“It’s great for mental health, too,” she added. Exercise is a healthy way to reduce stress. It causes people’s bodies to release mood-elevating chemicals called endorphins, and also provides physical benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and increased muscle strength.
According to a fact sheet from the American Hiking Society, walking or hiking a few times per week can improve a person’s health and lower health care costs. One study found that people who exercised filed 14 percent fewer healthcare claims, spent 30 percent fewer days in the hospital, and had 41 percent fewer claims greater than $5,000.
A sampling of regional trails
• The Luce Line Trail is a state-established trail maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It stretches 63 miles from Plymouth to Cosmos.
The trail runs on a former railroad line and is available for biking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and skiing.
From Plymouth west about 30 miles to Winsted, the surface is limestone. There is also a parallel treadway for horseback riding. Snowmobiles are allowed on the trail west of Stubb’s Bay Road.
From Winsted west to Cosmos, the trail has a natural surface.
• The Dakota Rail Regional Trail is a 44-mile former railroad corridor in Hennepin, Carver, and McLeod counties.
A portion of the trail in Hennepin County, at the city of Wayzata to the city of St. Bonifacius, was constructed in 2009.
In Carver County, the Dakota Rail Regional Trail is 12 miles in length, extending from the east Carver/Hennepin county line near Lake Waconia to the Carver/McLeod county line between New Germany and Lester Prairie.
• Lake Minnewashta and Baylor regional parks each have several miles of traditional groomed trails that meander through settings of woodland, prairie, and lakeshore.
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park also has several miles of trails that are groomed for traditional and skate skiing. For updated trail conditions, call the winter trails hotline at (952) 466-5237.