By Steve Warmowski

The new recreational trail at Lake Jacksonville has been a great way to get outdoors, especially with the COVID-19 precautions. My wife Tiffany and I have taken our six-year-old son Nicholas many a time to the lake. 

When we walk the trail, we often pass other families going for a walk or ride on the trail. I thought it would be fun to hide some toy figurines along the trail to give the kids something to discover. So, we brought a sack of toys, and looked for nooks and crannies to stash the little surprises. On subsequent trips, some of the toys were gone … and some were still in their hiding spaces. We’ll have to watch things as the season progresses and maybe even find some new toys to hide. 

So, head out the lake to see if you can find a surprise, or just take a nice walk in the woods. The trail is paved, so it’s a great destination even if the ground is wet. Bring some fishing poles or a lunch for there’s various points on the lake to throw in a line, and there’s picnic tables at points along the route. If the water flow is low, scrambling across the rocks below the spillway is fun, and if you cross you can get a bonus third of a mile walk on the rest of old West Lake Road. 

To get there, go south on Main Street and after I-72 at the bottom of the hill take the first left. Take New Lake Road over the railroad, continue past the campsites to the boat launch parking lot. Your stroll or ride from this lot to the dam is 1 3/4 miles. Once there, walk down West Lake Road to the old bridge, take the path through the woods to the spillway, and go up and across the dam to make your way back to add almost another mile to your trip. 

Outdoor recreation has is allowed under the stay-at-home order, as long as you practice social distancing. Keep in mind the restrooms at the boat launch are still closed, so plan accordingly. 

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