Get Fit Motivator! Brandywine Falls and Stanford Trail

Fall can be invigorating, which makes it a great time to start or ramp up an exercise program. The cool air and sunshine are ingredients for success. The return to regular schedules provides structure and support for those of us who need to get back “into it.”

I feel better when I exercise outside, even if it is a cloudy day. It’s hard to get going some days, so the thought of hiking under a canopy of green leaves is a great motivator. Once I’m out there, it becomes easier to push myself a bit.

If you aren’t sure of your fitness level, wearing a heart-rate monitor can help. There are wireless earbuds that can also monitor your heart rate through your ears.  I am fine with the old chest strap monitor, but if a new, wireless monitor is something that interests and motivates you, go for it!

I’ve written about our beautiful national park before, but I think the most spectacular spot in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Brandywine Falls.

Viewing the falls is a treat any time of year, though it can get a bit slippery on the boarded walkways in the winter. In addition to a trip to the waterfall, some great hiking trails criss-cross the area. Brandywine Gorge Trail follows the creek from the falls and loops back to the parking lot; this trail converges with the Stanford Trail, which provides a lot of elevation changes, giving you a longer loop and a more intense workout.

These trails are not paved. Tree roots and rocks can make navigating them, even on foot, a bit tricky. You can wear regular running shoes, but hiking shoes or boots work best.

Nearby, groomed trails like the Ohio-Erie Towpath Trail or Metro Parks Bike and Hike trail are better choices for a casual stroll.

Brandywine Falls Gorge Trail

A well-trodden path

Bridge over Brandywine Creek

Bridge over Brandywine Creek

Fungus and lichen patterns on tree trunk

Fungus patterns

These trails go through woods, fields, across creeks, and up and down hills.

stairs on Stanford Trail

A stairway to … heaven?

poke berry bushes

Poke berries (Phytolacca americana) add color and structure to the scene.

There are so many different ecosystems on display. In the next few weeks, the leaves will begin changing color, adding to the beauty of this valley.

Wildflower path

Wildflower path

wildflowers bloom in the meadow

Color pops in the meadow

spider flower

spider flower

Goldenrod (Solidago)

Goldenrod (Solidago)

Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

If you are having trouble getting yourself to the gym, try taking it outside. It just might be the change you need to get you moving in the right direction; and, there’s no better time than now!

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