Four times in the next six weeks, the National Trail Parks and Recreation District will bring its walking and nature programs to the Prairie Grass Trail in South Charleston.
Penny Dunbar, a recreation specialist, will lead all of the activities, which will start at the train depot at the trailhead on West Mound Street.
First up is a prairie hike set for 10 a.m. Aug. 4.
“The natural prairie along the trail is unique. The hike will be a chance for people to see and learn about the prairie’s grasses and plants,” said Dunbar.
Species along the trail include Big Blue Stem and Indian grasses, purple and yellow coneflowers, woodland sunflowers, blackeyed Susans, cardinal flowers and monardia.
The prairie plant life is a big draw, not just for Clark County residents and not just during scheduled nature hikes.
“We have people from all over the Midwest come to collect (prairie) seeds,” said Mark Miller, National Trail marketing and special projects manager.
The idea is to preserve natural prairie plants and to introduce them elsewhere. Along those lines, the Parks and Recreation District held its first seed collection in South Charleston last year. This year’s collection is set for 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 22.
“We’re looking for volunteers to collect grass and flower seeds. We use them to re-seed the same areas and to seed other parks in our district,” Dunbar said.
While the prairie hike and seed collection focus on education and preservation of natural resources, one-hour walks on Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 will be strictly about exercise and socializing. Both start at 10 a.m.
“Our Trail Walkers program highlights the different paths in our park system, giving people a chance to experience trails they may not be familiar with,” Dunbar said.
The fact that the Prairie Grass Trail is paved makes it accessible to a wide range of people, including those in wheelchairs and those with children in strollers, she noted.
The National Trails Parks and Recreation District boasts 30 miles of multipurpose trails, including the Little Miami Scenic, Simon Kenton, Buck Creek, Snyder Park, and Prairie Grass trails.
The Trail Walkers meet twice a month from spring through late fall. The reason the program is coming to South Charleston twice in two months is to give participants a chance to see different flowers in bloom.
For more information about the hikes, walks, seed collection or other programming, contact the National Trail Parks and Recreation District at 937-328-7275 or go to the Activities section of the district’s Web site at www.ntprd.org.