COLUMBIA CITY — Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, how people go about being active can vary greatly. Some people just don’t enjoy being on a treadmill or elliptical.
For the exercise enthusiast who also enjoys nature, Whitley County is home to picturesque and challenging trails for walking or biking.
South Whitley is home to the Eel River Trail, Columbia City has the trails at Morsches Park, the Churubusco Town Park has a trail system and there is also the Crooked Lake Nature Preserve. All four systems offer something different and give hikers the chance to be outdoors.
The trails in ’Busco wind through 14 acres of woods. The mulched paths lead to bridges and decks and take hikers through a wildlife marsh. Part of the path leads by the old scout lodge and can connect to the high school athletic fields. The hope is to someday have the existing paths tie in to a new trail from Blue Lake.
North of Columbia City about 7 miles sits Crooked Lake. Crooked Lake is spring-fed and has been recognized as one of the cleanest bodies of water in the state. The Crooked Lake Nature Preserve offers hikers two trails to choose from on the 145-acre preserve. The preserve entrance is located just west of State Road 9 on County Road 700 North. One trail takes hikers along the lake crossing over wetlands. The other trail features more hills and winds through the woods.
The Morsches Park trails are the longest in Whitley County. These walking and mountain biking trails take visitors through seven miles of the park, with 3.5 miles located on each side of U.S 30. The paths at Morsches are mostly dirt and feature several areas of elevation. Plus, as with the other trails, the Morsches paths give hikers the opportunity to see wildlife and vegetation that might not be found anywhere else in the county.
Columbia City is also home to the Blue River Trail. The Blue River Trail begins on Whitley Street near the Blue Bell Lofts and travels along the Blue River. The paved trail winds by the water tower on the south side of town and crosses the river before emerging at the YMCA. The Blue River Trail continues across the road into Morsches Park and follows the drive back to the north end of the park.
South Whitley is home to the Eel River Trail. This paved walking and bike path is located on the north side of town on Calhoun Street. The trail begins just east of 2nd Street. Hikers and bikers can travel along the trail north out of town all the way to the old railroad trestle.
Columbia City is also planning to connect the city’s trails to the new Columbia City High School as part of an agreement with Whitley County Consolidated Schools.
Access to a trail system awaits just minutes from any corner of Whitley County, offering motivation to exercise and enjoy nature.