Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 25, 2012

MARTINO: Urban trails provide unique experiences

Kokomo offers pair of multi-use urban paths

By John Martino
Outdoors columnist

— For most people, the concept of hiking conjures up visions of dirt paths, rocky trails and scenic mountain passes. But what about our very own unique urban landscapes, historic buildings, side streets and old railways?

When it comes to hitting the trails, enjoying a little outdoor exercise or even unstructured time to contemplate, sometimes those living in cities may feel a little boxed in. But for those in Kokomo, there is plenty of adventure to take in and enjoy within minutes of home.

It’s about embracing the whole world just outside your door and journeying into it with wide eyes and an open mind. It’s about forays into unique neighborhood nooks and unexpected natural havens.

It’s become a familiar site. People jogging, walking and riding bikes along the smooth, winding asphalt path. In some areas it’s easy to forget you are actually within the city limits as trees and nature envelope the surroundings. In others, there are constant reminders.

Kokomo is fortunate to boast of two, comfortably wide, multi-use urban paths drawing in hundreds of visitors every day of the week.

“I walk this path four times a day,” said Delco retiree Joe Young. “I think it’s beautiful and there is no better place to get my exercise.”

He was referring to the Wildcat Creek Walk of Excellence. This particular path spans roughly 2.4 miles and runs from Mehlig Park on the city’s west side to Waterworks Park located in Kokomo’s eastern fringe.

The Walk of Excellence links together six city parks, Kokomo Beach, historic neighborhoods, schools and our downtown area. In most places it hugs the Wildcat Creek, where towering cottonwoods and sycamores shade the gently flowing waters.

“I never knew there was this much wildlife in town,” mentioned Betty Sanders as she took her regular morning stroll. “I have seen a fox, beavers, muskrats and all kinds of birds.”

It is also a common place to see people of all ages and walks of life fishing for the many species of game fish which call the stream home.

“The path has opened up access to the creek for me,” Robert Russell said as he unhooked a good-sized largemouth bass he had just caught. Behind him a jogger trotted past, his shirt damp with sweat while farther back a young lady pushed her young child in a stroller, as she casually sipped her morning coffee. It was easy to see the term “multi-use” in all its full glory.

Over the past several years Kokomo also saw the creation of the Industrial Heritage Trail. This dedicated walk path currently stretches from Markland Avenue to Lincoln Road, taking in many of our city’s historic industrial sites. Aggressive endeavors by the city administration will soon stretch this path from the downtown area to Kokomo’s southern most reaches.

Although a truly wilderness setting may offer unmatched and special nourishment, there is plenty of sustenance to be found roaming our own unique landscape. An urban hike gives us the chance to explore the area we live in, time to contemplate how we live our lives and time to physically and emotionally interact with that special place we call home.

Sporting Clays event

The Ronald McDonald House of Indiana will host a sporting clays shooting event at the Howard County Izaak Walton League. The event will take place Sept. 8, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

In addition to enjoying one of shotgunnings most exciting shooting sports, participants will also have the opportunity to take in a silent auction offering guns and many types of outdoor equipment. A continental breakfast will be served and later, a barbecue lunch, provided by Kincaid Meat Market, City Barbecue and Olive Branch Church.

“The Wild, Wild Midwest Sporting Clays event is great fun and rewarding knowing that those who love to shoot can come out and support a great cause,” said Jeff Chamness with Dr. Pepper, sponsor of the event.

“What separates this shoot from others is that the ammo, shooter gifts and items for the silent auction are provided by the Kids and Clays Foundation, which is really quality stuff,” said Jim Dunn, a supporter of the event.

The Ronald McDonald House of Indiana is a home away from home for families with children being treated at Indianapolis area hospitals, primarily Riley Hospital.

If you are interested in taking part in the worthwhile cause or would like additional details, contact local representative Ed Rethlake at 765-437-3032.

Tournament results

Mike and Shane Harrison left double winners at last Tuesday’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney, staged on Mississinewa Reservoir. The Harrisons captured first place and the tourney’s “big fish” award with three largemouth and a smallmouth bass totaling 10 pounds, 2 ounces, with their largest dropping the scales at 4 pounds, 9 ounces. Second place went to Bob Rose and Wayne Nolder with five fish weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Third place went to Larrell Norris and Dave Robertson with three fish weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.