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The Journal Gazette

  • Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette Chain O' Lakes State Park's 20-mile loop offers stunning views of the tree-lined lakes.

  • Photo courtesy of Charles Moman Chain O’ Lakes State Park

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:00 am

Some colorful places to run

Area parks provide perfect platforms to take in scenery

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

For fall foliage in the area, trails are going to provide runners with the full immersion of the beauties of the season.

The temperatures are perfect and the fall colors make the views even better.

Here are a few of my favorite fall running spots.

Chain O' Lakes State Park, Albion: The fall colors reflect off Sand Lake as the running groups meet at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings. The season is one of the reasons why the Indiana Trail 100 races have been moved to October for 2018 (along with the hope of better weather).

The 20-mile loop doesn't repeat any section and there's never more than a few miles without a distinct change in scenery between fields, lake views, pine trees and sun shining through the ever-growing holes in the treetops.

The views of the lakes are breath-taking and each week throughout autumn gets better than the last.

Franke Park mountain bike trails: This one requires a little more constant awareness as traversing the more technical trails on foot comes with some risk.

While the rules state that cyclists must yield to pedestrians, it's easy for either party to be caught unaware with the various turns so be constantly wary of cyclists while running on the trails. Hidden roots can also be sneaky as the cushioning of the fallen leaves becomes thicker along the trails.

Despite the two most significant “risks,” Franke provides over 10 miles' worth of trail with some challenges, with short but steep hills throughout or flatter sections as runners can follow the green, “easy” arrows.

It's good for short and long runs and road-runners can benefit from its paved loop around the park.

River Greenway/Towpath trail system: Fort Wayne has done a tremendous job expanding the trail system throughout the city. Not only do trees along these paths provide shade in the summer and some shelter in rainy weather, the colors during the fall are all around for miles and miles.

The system goes from Shoaff, through the IPFW campus, Johnny Appleseed, downtown, Swinney Park, down the banks of the Maumee to New Haven while the Towpath stretches southwest toward the Lutheran Hospital campus, connecting with the Aboite Trail System.

Runners could, if they wanted to, run point-to-point from Shoaff to the Aboite area and cover over 20 miles.

Honorable mentions: Pokagon State Park near Angola, Oubache State Park near Bluffton, Pufferbelly Trail system on the north side of Fort Wayne and ACRES Land Trust properties located throughout the region.