Eight-week series of free hikes for seniors at different parks will highlight nature, history
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, in conjunction with the Department of Senior Services, will debut a series of free weekly hikes geared toward seniors beginning on May 2. The 2:30 p.m. hikes will be held at parks around the county, and each will feature a brief warmup with Senior Services’ “Mr. Fitness,” Richard Derwald, prior to the hike beginning. An Erie County park ranger will lead each hike, exploring history, flora and fauna, and much more during each one-hour excursion.
Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Daniel J. Rizzo said, “The senior hiking club will give seniors an up-close, educational look at the natural wonders and rich history of our Erie County Parks, showcasing different parks each week while exploring interesting topics. This will be a kind of ‘behind the scenes’ look at our parks and a great opportunity for seniors to enjoy.”
Hikes will begin at 2:30 with a brief warmup led by Derwald, a fitness trainer for the Erie County Department of Senior Services. “Mr. Fitness” coordinates the “Club 99” senior fitness program at numerous area senior centers and is a longtime advocate for exercise and a healthy diet.
“I look forward to joining seniors at our parks for the hiking club, getting some light exercise with friends in a beautiful natural setting,” Derwald said. “We will make sure everyone is ready to go with some light stretching before setting out, and then we’ll join our rangers for the hike.”
The spring 2019 seniors hiking club schedule is:
•Thursday, May 2 – Spring wildflowers at Emery Park with ranger Chuck. Explore Emery Park’s wildflowers and learn how to identify them. Hikers should meet at shelter No. 2.
•Thursday, May 9 – Infrastructure at Ellicott Creek Park with ranger Roy. Learn about historic and recent work in the park with an emphasis on the amount and variety of infrastructure in the park. Hikers should meet at shelter No. 4.
•Thursday, May 16 – Nature walk at Sprague Brook Park with ranger Stephanie. A guided nature exploration of the cross-country ski trail. Hikers should meet at the XC skiing hut.
•Thursday, May 23 – A jewel of the Onondaga escarpment at Akron Falls Park with ranger Chuck. Learn about the Onondaga escarpment and why the park’s great waterfall is there. Hikers should meet at shelter No. 12.
•Thursday, May 30 – Nature walk at Chestnut Ridge Park with ranger Jerry. A guided nature exploration of the Reservoir Trail. Hikers should meet at the commissioner’s cabin.
•Thursday, June 6 – Floodplains at Como Lake Park with ranger Jerry. Learn about flood plains and their importance during a walk through the flood plain in the park. Hikers should meet at shelter No. 5.
•Thursday, June 13 – Birding at Isle View Park with ranger Stephanie. Enjoy a walk through the park looking for birds and learning how to identify them, especially the water birds that call the Niagara home. Hikers should meet at the park office.
•Thursday, June 20 – History of Emery Park at Emery with ranger Roy. A brief history of one of the county’s heritage parks, covering the founding of the park, WPA improvements in the 1930s, and much more. Hikers should meet at shelter No. 12.
Hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate shoes, bring a water bottle and be dressed for the weather, including bringing sunscreen. For more information, call 716-858-8355 or visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.