Bob D'Aurelio and grandson Ryan on a
community trail in Marietta, Ga.
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More Trail Tales
In the Winter 2008 issue of Rails to Trails, we asked our readers: What's your favorite view from a trail? Our responses covered two ends of the rail-trail spectrum: views on the trail, and views from the trail. We selected the first for the magazine, but the second essay below offers no shortage of outstanding views—almost too numerous and memorable, in fact, to do justice to them all.
Bob D'Aurelio of Newbury, Ohio, writes:
I've had occasion to ride many rail-trails and observe the splendor of great, panoramic views in several states. Highlights to every trail include friendly bikers, runners and hikers, the ever-changing colors of forests, mountains, open fields, bridges, tunnels, rivers and critters.
But the grandest sight in all of nature has to be a family on the trail: dad and mom with the kids out enjoying the real world without commercials, bright lights, glitter, hype, replays, talking heads, noise and nonsense ad nausea.
Have you ever noticed how happy the kids are? On my home trail, the Maple Highlands Trail from Chardon to Middlefield, Ohio, I remember passing one family several times this summer as I went back and forth on the 17-mile round-trip a couple of times. A little girl with her pink bike and helmet looked up at me as I was going by the third time and, with a big smile, said, "So we meet again."
I still grin when I revisit that cherished moment. At age 64 I have seen many wonderful, scenic views. They are surely works of wonder. But the most magnificent view on the trail is a family.
Joseph DeRoller of Rochester, N.Y., writes:
You leave heavily trafficked Lake Avenue and start down the newest section of the Genesee Riverway Trail. On your left are a series of nicely landscaped backyards. On your right is a gradually expanding hardwood tableland where in the past you've seen whitetail deer and, once, a flock of wild turkeys.
At the sign indicated "Rochester Harbor, River Level, Canoe Launch," you bear to the right and start down a long descent that will take you from the top of the gorge to the river, which briefly appears through the trees as you round the first bend. Like a rolling stone, you're picking up speed and subsequent views of the river are fleeting and kaleidoscopic. Then you're there: Turning Point.
Before you, like a huge horizontal sickle, stretches the recently built boardwalk winding its way around the river's wildest waters, the place where freighters from Lake Ontario could turn around. Nestled within the confines of the city but amazingly separate, this is a truly magical place. Covered by trees in various fall colors, the riverbanks are like a huge multi-hued quilt gathered around the river to keep the rest of the world at bay.
Wildlife abounds. A blue heron waits in the shallows for an unwary minnow. Two Canada geese cruise serenely beside the boardwalk. Several mallards play bottoms up. A pair of swans drift majestically by you. In the summer you watch an egret chase them away when they get too close to its territory. You see a turtle sunning itself on a plate-sized flatrock with a baby duck standing next to it. The scene seems too Disney-esque to be true, but it is.
This section of the trail is slightly more than a year old. I ride it two or three times a week. Each trip is a unique experience. I never know what new treats await me when I enter this kingdom of earthly delights.