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COLUMN: Start your hiking journey at Griffy Lake this fall

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It is officially that time in the semester where exams, essays and projects are starting to pile up. On the bright side, we no longer have to sweat buckets walking to class. Now that Bloomington weather is becoming more manageable, getting outside and active is actually enjoyable. If you are looking for any reason to stop staring at your chemistry or accounting homework, I highly recommend going on a hike on one of the many beautiful trails Bloomington has to offer. In between studying for two upcoming exams this week, I found time to hike with a friend. I was able to clear my head for a moment and relax in nature and good company.  

Bloomington has over 40 scenic hiking trails —  most of which are a short drive from campus. Plus, it's a healthy way to relieve stress compared to scrolling on TikTok or eating another bag of chips. But where should you start? I highly suggest hiking at the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve.   

Griffy Lake is only a ten minute drive from campus, and it has many different hiking trails ranging in difficulty. Before going on these hikes, I suggest using the app AllTrails to view the difficulty level and route of the different trails. It is free on Apple and Samsung devices and has several useful features including reviews, photos, directions, weather reports and maps. It is a great safeguard to know what to expect and not end up lost in the woods. Here are the three different hiking trails I would recommend: 

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Boat House Trails 

The first hiking trail is deemed an easy trail according to the app. It is 1.8 miles long, and its straightforward route is in a loop. This trail takes around 41 minutes to complete. If you have never gone hiking before and are looking for a good introduction, this trail is perfect for you. This was the first trail I hiked in Bloomington with friends, and I felt like the time flew by, which encouraged me to try more trails. 

Nature Preserve Loop Trail  

This trail increases in difficulty with AllTrails rating it moderate on the app. It is 2.4 miles long, and although the route is still a loop, it is a little more difficult to navigate. It takes around fifty-five minutes to complete. If you are feeling confident and want a route that takes around an hour, I would recommend this trail. I found this trail after trying the boat house trails, and I could not stop taking pictures of the beautiful scenery the entire time. 

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North Shore Trail 

The third trail is the most difficult being rated a hard trail on the app AllTrails. It is 3.1 miles long with a fairly simple loop route. It takes around an hour and eight minutes to complete. If you are feeling up for a challenge and want to dedicate some time to hiking, this would be the best trail for you. This trail definitely challenged me with a few steep inclines, but I felt accomplished after finishing it. I cannot wait to try more!  

Each of these trails are pretty popular so you will most likely see other people birdwatching, running, or catching up with friends. Dogs are welcome on all of these trails as long as they are on a leash. I hope you can make it out to Griffy Lake soon to take advantage of all Bloomington has to offer. As the colors of the leaves change and summer fades into fall, Bloomington and these trails only get more beautiful.  

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