The inaugural meeting of the Council Bluffs Walking Club was pushed back due to sleet and snow last week, and while Mother Nature was still a bit uncooperative this time around, the group made it out for a brisk stroll Thursday morning.
About a dozen walking enthusiasts gathered at the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church lot just before 10:30 a.m., the starting time for all walks in the coming weeks. This week’s goal was to march along the Valley View Trail to the nearby CHI Health Clinic and back. Those who completed the entire route got about 3.5 miles in.
The beauty of the Council Bluffs Community Walking Club, though, is that no one is expected to make the whole trek or keep up with the fastest pace. The only expectation is that folks come out to get some exercise and fresh air while meeting their neighbors and community members.
Carrie McDonald, owner of First Row Fitness in Council Bluffs, is heading up the club, which is also sponsored by The 712 Initiative. Before Thursday’s group started their walk, she wanted to reiterate the expectations.
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“I just want everybody to go with a pace they’re comfortable with, get to know each other and enjoy it,” she said. “That’s the big thing.”
The sky was grey and winds swept across the trail’s adjoining cornfields as the walkers hoofed it along Valley View Drive with near-freezing temperatures. Some folks murmured about their reluctance to come out in such weather, but McDonald praised them for their efforts and reminded them that warmer weather is just around the corner.
“We’re outside, we’re in nature, tuning into the birds,” she said. “It’s really, really important for your overall health, and a community is great for that as well.”
McDonald said that walking is a great activity that benefits both the mind and body, and she said that First Row and The 712 Initiative wanted to create a free program that gets people on their feet and amongst their neighbors
The club meets at 10:30 a.m. every Thursday at different locations across Council Bluffs. The walks last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes and will feature different levels of difficulty. Some walks will be on paved trails and some will be hikes through natural areas throughout the city.
The next Council Bluffs Community Walking Club jaunt will take place along the new First Avenue Trail on March 30. Walkers should meet at Cochran Park, 100 S. 21st St., just before 10:30 a.m.
Here’s the rest of the schedule for the club’s upcoming spring sessions:
April 6 — Wabash Trace Nature Trail (meet at the trailhead)
April 13 — Fairmount Park trails (meet at Ninth Avenue and High Street trailhead)
April 20 — Western Historic Trails Center (meet at the welcome center building)
April 27 — Iowa Riverfront Trail (meet near the stairs at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park)
May 4 — Lake Manawa State Park (meet in southeastern parking lot)
May 11 — Vincent Bluff Nature Preserve (meet at Thallas Street trailhead)
May 18 — Big Lake Park (meet in the northwestern parking lot)
May 19 — First Avenue Trail (meet a Cochran Park)
May 25 — Iowa Riverfront Trail (meet near the stairs at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park)
One of the dates is on a Friday, and there may be Saturday walks added to the schedule. McDonald said the walks will be promoted on unleashcb.com, and the schedule and updates can be found on the Walk the Bluffs Facebook page.