Trail Tails: Jeffery Park

It’s the time of year that runners and bikers alike have been dreaming about for months – the time when you can finally shed those gloves, hats and leggings and revel in shorts, tees and sweat-proof sunblock.

If you and your outdoor exercise efforts have both survived this brutal Columbus winter and spring, then it’s a great idea to reward yourself with a change of scenery to lift your spirits and stay motivated. Trying out a new trail is the perfect way to reenergize early this summer.

I recommend making a trip to Jeffrey Park, located at 165 N. Park Ave. in Bexley. The park is currently open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Perfect yellow daffodils greet you as you make your way down the hill to 35 acres of wooded trails. The trail paths aren’t clearly marked, but they begin just about everywhere, so look for raised patches of soft mulch to guide your walk or run. Leave your trail shoes at home; all you’ll need is your regular pair of running shoes for this cushy excursion through the trees.

You’ll wind throughout the woods, even running past rushing Alum Creek. As you breathe in and out you’ll smell the sweet scents of early summer, like new leaves, fresh green grasses and wildflowers growing in the distance. Keep your eyes open for the flutter of wings – butterflies, hummingbirds and many other colorful winged creatures call this park home, and they make for some stunning viewing this time of year.

You can even do some stair training on the three flights that lead from the pavement to a nearby mansion. I like to stop at each level and do some tricep dips at the benches, as well as lunges, squats and other body-weight-resistance exercises to mix up my routine.

Running, walking or biking the trails through Jeffrey Park will earn you a mile or so at best, so serious exercisers will definitely benefit from the Alum Creek Trail’s presence. If you require longer distances, you can park in the lot at 2080 Clifton Ave. This lot offers easy access to the Jeffrey Park trails and the much, much longer Alum Creek Trail. You can get your nature fix first then continue your long-distance workout on the paved trail that’s accessible from the parking lot.

You can also enjoy some recreation at the park, with access to tennis courts and a half basketball court. Playing tennis and basketball, even for those of us who are not so skilled, is a great way to burn off calories while having fun and building relationships with friends.

If you just so happen to be a Bexley resident, you can enjoy the on-site community pool or even participate in the kayak or canoe rental program.

Whatever trail you choose as the weather warms, it’s important to make certain you’re still being safe. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply if you are sweating profusely or are outside for longer than two hours. Our eyes are just as sensitive to the sun’s rays as our skin, so wear athletic sunglasses to protect them. Make sure they are snug and have been designed to hold up to body movement so you don’t have to reposition them throughout your run.

Finally, with more people taking advantage of the beautiful weather, it’s important to remember basic courtesy. If you are biking, make sure to pass runners or slower exercisers at a safe distance while verbally letting them know you are “on the left” as you pass. Beyond that, just remember to enjoy the sunshine, the warm air and the chance to really stretch your limbs and your workouts.