It is fall and change is in the air — more so it seems than usual.

My oldest son headed off to his first year of college at University of Colorado. While he was ready and excited to move away and see where this new path will take him, the change has also been harder for him then he anticipated.

As I have been watching him trying to gain his footing in a new town, at a new school, and with new friends it has got me thinking and noticing all sorts of changes and quite literally different paths and trails around me.

Change can be hard. Sometimes we do not like it. Take for instance the new property owner adjacent to the Commons who has put up signs and fencing and blocked trails that have been used for 20 plus years by countless people.

It was shocking and a bit disheartening, despite the fact that it was private property and I think most people knew they were technically trespassing.

Yes there are other trails but so far I have not found an alternate route that I enjoy as much as the old one. I keep hoping and waiting for someone to build a new one along the fence line but so far it has not happened. I miss the old trail.

Other changes are easy to embrace. The new trails at Hickory Hills fall into that category for me. When the construction first started and trees were coming down it was hard to watch. Knowing there was a plan helped a little.

But as the trails started to take shape last fall and Nordic skiing began, it was easy to see what a great change it was. With the finishing touches completed this spring and summer the trails have only gotten better.

Another trail change has taken place this year at Holiday Woodlands Preserve. If you are not familiar with this area it is 80 acres adjacent to Holiday Hills. East Bay Township residents stepped up to purchase this property to prevent future development and maintain the property for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, bird watching and exploring as it has been used for decades.

I have been running trails in this area for years but — with the purchase of the property and designation as a preserve — some very enthusiastic trail building has been taking place and I have been enjoying it every time I am out there.

As my son has been transitioning to his new life at school, I have been encouraging him to get out try new things, meet new people and take advantage of the new opportunities available to him. Trails abound in Boulder. I was lucky to check one out while I was dropping him off, but he has been doing a lot of exploring of his own.

We are fortunate to have so many trails in our area but it is easy to get in a rut or habit or even out of convenience go to the same place we are familiar with over and over. So I decided to practice what I was preaching and hit a couple of new places up myself.

The first is Kettles Trail and is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore. The trail can be accessed off Baatz Road and is approximately 3.5 miles. This is a new trail and I was fortunate to be out on it while it was still under construction, although the trail building is now very near completion. This is a beautiful area and the kettle lakes make for interesting topography. I am eager to get back out and enjoy the whole trail.

The second is Palmer Woods Forest Reserve. Also located in Leelanau County the reserve can be accessed off Wheeler Road. There are hiking trails as well as a new mountain biking trail, which is what I went to check out. I have heard of a few injuries on this trail and since I am prone to biking injuries I was a bit cautious. The two loops are both intermediate, single track, flow style trails with challenging climbs, fun down hills and lot of jumps if you are so inclined … I was not. But I will be gathering some friends and heading back soon.

While the trail changes and exploration I have done cannot compare to the huge life changes my son is making it was a good reminder for me to change things up.

It can be easy to get stuck, whether it is your exercise routine, a restaurant, a hobby, your social routine. It is always a good idea to try something new, explore a new place, meet new people because getting out of your comfort zone can lead to growth, learning and a happier, more fulfilling life. That is the kind of change to embrace.

Kelley Peterson is an avid trail runner and cross-country skier. The Traverse City native serves on the North American Vasa board. Contact her at kepeterson@chartermi.net.

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