Walking at Près Isle State Park can improve mental and physical health

“One can perceive beauty only with a serene mind,” naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau once noted.

Almost Isle State Park is a place to stop for a moment and drink in the beauty of nature.

Have you ever seen a sunrise over the water of the bay while strolling in Près Isle? This simple gift of nature offers the blessing of peace and tranquility. Morning colors can range from combinations of blue, orange, red, and even shades of gold, purple, and gray. On the morning of this writing, the water in Près Isle Bay is exceptionally flat and reflects images on its mirror-like surface.

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An elegant Great Blue Heron beats a low path through the calm water near the Feather Platform. Its reflection resembles the letter “W” on the surface of the water. These majestic birds are plentiful in the park and can be seen fishing in the bay’s shallows, ponds and lagoons.

We’re lucky here in northwestern Pennsylvania that Almost Isle presents itself as a place where flora and fauna co-exist. Walking remains the best way to enjoy the park. It offers visitors one of the best ways to experience the natural world while engaging in some of the best cardiovascular exercise. Ninety minutes of walking gives you the same aerobic benefits as a 30-minute run without stressing your joints and with little risk of injury.

Start your journey on foot

Visitors enjoy the park by strolling along its seven miles of sandy beaches and more than 30 miles of multi-use and wooded trails. How to start walking for exercise? Mental attitude is one of the most important things involved in starting. The hardest part will be making a determined effort to start and keep going. Walk alone, with a friend or in a group.

Beginner walkers should consider starting with the more leisurely walks on the Multi-Use Trail near Vista parking lots 1 or 2. Over time you can gradually progress to longer, faster, more challenging walks and finally onto a few wooded trails. You will find that your legs, lungs and heart will always tell you the right rhythm. In practice, it’s usually best to slow down and keep a steady pace for an extended period of time. Your long term enjoyment will be much greater this way.

You will also find that walking allows you to get away from today’s hectic lifestyle as well as the daily news. Once you get started, you’ll soon want to get out and explore Almost Isle. You will learn to love the solitude, peace and pace of walking in nature.

Over the years, many people have found that walking on Près Isle in the morning makes tough decisions easier. They believe part of the reason is that the sounds, colors and smells of nature bring their senses to life. Won’t you join us for a morning stroll and let first light be your rudder guiding you through the day?

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” -Henry David Thoreau.

See you at the park!

Gene Ware is the author of 10 books. He sits on the board of directors of the Près Isle Light Station and has served as chairman of the boards of the Tom Ridge Center Foundation and the Près Isle Partnership. Email him at [email protected].

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