For a week now, Decorah has been enjoying outdoor temperatures that, amazingly, do not hurt to experience for extended periods of time. With highs in the 50’s and 60’s, I have started to try and take a hike everyday. The Decorah area boasts various beautiful, peaceful, and diverse places to walk. From Trout Run Trail lying parallel to the Upper Iowa River, extending down to the south of town, and offering bikers a nice paved path on which to ride, to the extensive trail system connecting Luther’s many acres of natural land, there are many opportunities for walkers, runners, and bikers to explore Decorah's bluffs, prairies, waterways, and forests.
For Luther students, the trails surrounding campus seem to be the most popular. When I walk the Hickory Ridge Loop I will almost always see a few other students walking or running on the dirt trail. This loop is really an excellent route for a quick afternoon walk. After the entrance point (assuming you are walking clockwise around the loop), there is a gain in elevation that provides progressively more expansive views of Anderson Prairie and campus (both to the west of the ridge). After passing a large green water tower, the trail slopes upwards through a grove of elm and white oak trees. The roots protruding from the ground are often matted with green moss and deer tracks—evidence of the (perhaps too much) thriving deer community present in Decorah. The trail then descends and marks the boundary between the forest and a small agricultural field with a sizable solar array before following a deep stream bed down a small valley back to the prairie. There is a picturesque sitting spot at the entrance to the prairie with a bench and a view of campus.
As the warm months begin, it is very exciting to see the outdoor campus areas come back to life with students (though I’m not sure if the deer are particularly happy with our incessant use of their trails). I very much enjoy being part of a community that values, utilizes, and invests in our outdoor areas for the purposes of enjoyment and recreation. I still have not come close to visiting every natural area around Decorah and cannot wait to discover more.