Series of 8 autumn hikes visits 7 parks, builds on successful spring program; designed for seniors, hikes are led by park rangers and include pre-hike warm-up with Senior Services’ ‘Mr. Fitness’
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, in conjunction with the Department of Senior Services, has announced the autumn 2019 schedule for the Seniors Hiking Club. Building on the success of the club’s debut last spring, the autumn series of free weekly hikes geared toward seniors will begin on Sept. 12.
The 2:30 p.m. hikes will be held at parks around the county and each will feature a brief warm up 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 Troy P. Schinzel said, “Our parks are natural treasures, and the Senior Hiking Club gives seniors an up-close, educational look at the natural wonders and rich history they contain. This program was hugely popular in the spring, so we are happy it is returning in the autumn, when the parks’ seasonal beauty is on display. Our rangers have a full schedule of educational and informative hikes planned, so we are looking forward to sharing this autumn season with our seniors.”
Commissioner of Senior Services David J. Shenk said, “One of my goals since becoming commissioner is to reduce social isolation. The Seniors Hiking Club supports this by getting seniors out of the house, in our parks, learning about nature, and making new friends.”
Hikes will begin at 2:30 with a brief warm-up led by Derwald, a fitness trainer for the Erie County Department of Senior Services. Known as “Mr. Fitness,” Derwald coordinates the “Club 99” senior fitness program at numerous area senior centers and is a longtime advocate for exercise and a healthy diet.
The Autumn 2019 Seniors Hiking Club schedule is:
•Thursday, Sept. 12 - Sprague Brook: General Nature Hike (XC Trail). Join Ranger Chuck for a hike exploring Sprague Brook Park’s cross-country ski trail. This will be a vigorous hike covering the entire loop, so be prepared to hike. Along the way, Ranger Chuck will talk about some of the different species and ecosystems. Dress for the weather, bring water, wear good walking shoes, and bring questions. Meet at the cross-country ski warming hut.
•Thursday, Sept. 19 – Ellicott Creek: Invasive species. Invasive species are a major concern for land managers, including Erie County Parks, and should also be a concern for homeowners. But what is an invasive species, what harm can they do, and what can be done about them? Ranger Roy will cover these questions during a walking discussion about invasive species. Dress appropriately for the weather with good hiking shoes. Meet at the soccer field parking lot.
•Thursday, Sept. 26 – Emery Park: Emery's Waterfalls. Join Ranger Roy for a hike exploring some of the waterfalls at Emery Park. Meet in the main parking lot near the baseball diamond. This will be a difficult hike with some off trail hiking required. Dress appropriately for the weather, including footwear that can get wet. Trekking poles or hiking sticks may be helpful and cameras are encouraged.
•Thursday, Oct. 3 – Chestnut Ridge: General Nature Hike (XC Trail). Join Ranger Chuck for a guided walk of Chestnut Ridge Park’s cross-country ski trail and other nearby areas. This will be a fairly easy walk learning about some of the species encountered on the trail. Dress for the weather, bring water, wear good walking shoes, and bring questions. Meet at Shelter 9A.
•Thursday, Oct. 10 – Como Lake: Tree ID. Join Ranger Roy for a hike in historic Como Lake Park, to take a look at basic tree identification. Guests will go over the key points of major tree species and discuss why some trees are found where they are. Wear good hiking shoes! This may be educational, but it is still a hike. Meet in the large parking lot by the skating rinks.
•Thursday, Oct. 17 – Isle View: Fall Birding. Ranger Stephanie is an avid birder. Join her for a walk through the park looking at birds, especially water birds, and learning how to identify them. This will be an easy going hike along the bike path and adjacent areas. Dress for the weather and wear good hiking shoes.
•Thursday, Oct. 24 – Sprague Brook: Autumn Themed Nature Hike (XC Trail). Join Ranger Chuck for a second exploration of Sprague Brook Park’s cross-country ski trail. This time, guests will look at the many seasonal changes along the trail that have occurred since the previous visit in early September. Dress for the weather, bring water, wear good walking shoes, and bring questions. Meet at the cross-country ski warming hut.
•Thursday, Oct. 31 – Akron Falls: Legends of Murder Creek. Akron Falls in Akron Falls Park is the point where Murder Creek flows over the Onondaga Escarpment. Join Ranger Roy to learn about some of the legends describing possible events leading to this waterway being called “Murder Creek.” This will be a short walk with several stories along the way. Dress appropriately for the weather. Meet in the Brooklyn section of the park.
“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.”
Hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate shoes, bring a water bottle and be dressed for the weather, including bringing sunscreen.
In case of bad weather, hikers are encouraged to call the Parks Department at 716-858-8355 prior to going out to ensure scheduled walks will be held as planned.
For more information, call 716-858-8355 or visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.