By Rick Morwick
If you ever get told to “take a hike,” it might not be a slight. It might actually be sound health advice, especially for older people who want to stay active in ways that don’t involve running, strength training or other activities that are aerobically taxing or stressful on joints.
Locally, Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park in Lawrence has a variety of easy and moderate trails that combine pleasant scenery with walkable terrain — natural and paved — that can be completed in as little as 30 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on the physical challenge you’re looking for.
In total, the park has six trails. Two are classified as easy and two are moderate. Of the four, the Fall Creek Trail, the Camp Creek Trail and the Harrison Loop Trail afford the best views of surrounding woods and waterways, lakes and ponds, and are among the most popular with hikers.
As the name implies, the Fall Creek Trail follows a swath of Fall Creek. It also passes through woods with opportunities for birding and tree identification. It is 1.1-mile in length and classified as moderate. It ultimately connects to Camp Creek Trail.
A bit more challenging than the Fall Creek Trail, Camp Creek is a 2-mile trial that passes along the banks of Delaware Lake, a prominent feature of the park, and Duck Pond. It also has views of several vistas from bluffs that overlook Camp Creek Valley.
“You can turn (Fall Creek and Camp Creek trails) into one big loop, and it makes it about 3 to 4 miles,” said Denise Kivett, who works in the park’s visitors center and is the leader of a hiking club. “You’re going to have really great views of actual Fall Creek. Camp Creek is a little bit more on the rugged side but we still consider it one of our more moderate trails.”
Unlike most other trails in the park, Fall Creek and Camp Creek are for hikers only. Bicycles are not permitted.
The park’s lone paved trail, Harrison Trace, is 3.2 miles and is classified as easy. It is popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists.
For more, visit in.gov.