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Columbia resident publishes resource guide for mid-Missouri trails

 Ginger Schweikert stands atop Mount Bierdstadt in Colorado.
Courtesy of Ginger Schweikert
Schweikert wrote much of "Columbia Trails" while traveling in Colorado.

Ginger Schweikert grew up in Columbia and moved away in 2000, after she graduated from MU. When she came back three years ago, she took to the trails she traversed as a child to find peace. She noticed, though, that there wasn’t a comprehensive resource for hiking in Columbia and areas surrounding. So, she embarked on a new adventure: creating her own.

The process was long, Schweikert said. She researched and wrote for about a year and a half and spent around six months editing, even learning how to use Adobe Illustrator along the way. The guide, “Columbia Trails: Over 300 Miles of Hiking, Biking and Horsing Around in Mid-Missouri,” was published in April.

“For people who want to write a book, I encourage them to do so, but know that it’s a journey,” Schweikert said. “There’s going to be a lot of false peaks. You’ll think you’re at the top of the mountain, and then you’ll see another peak, and you just gotta keep going. Just like hiking.”

“Columbia Trails” includes information like trail types and difficulty, how busy a trail is and where dogs can be off leash. Schweikert said it’s not just a resource for trails in Columbia; it includes information about trails 30 minutes to an hour outside the city.

For people who want to get out into nature, Schweikert’s advice is simple: just do it. Find a routine and place that will best suit your needs.

“Some people think that they need just a certain kind of shoes, or a certain kind of shorts, or like, if they're biking, they need all this gear,” Schweikert said. “You don't need anything special. You just need comfortable shoes and water. It's nice to have a water bottle.” (And a helmet, if biking.)

She said if someone is looking for camaraderie, they should plan a walk with friends or organize a camping trip. Someone looking for silence and solitude should try going during the week and during the day, when most other people are at work.

“You'll be able to connect with nature more, hear the sounds and not hear other people walking on the trail,” Schweikert said. "For me, I am a big during-the-day kind of person, because the solitude and the peace and the rhythmic motion is super therapeutic.”

In her work as a psychiatric nurse at CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia, Schweikert can attest to the medical benefits of being in nature, even finding the bilateral movement of walking an aid to her own mental health. The process of creating “Columbia Trails” helped her discover aspects of her walking paths she hadn’t known before.

“I can almost guarantee that there'll be something new in there for everyone,” Schweikert said.

“Columbia Trails” is available locally at places like Alpine Shop, Yellow Dog Bookshop, Walt's Bike Shop, CycleX, Tryathletics and the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

Katelynn McIlwain, originally from Freeport, Illinois (go Pretzels!), is the managing editor for KBIA. She assists KBIA newsroom leaders in planning, supervising and producing news programming for radio broadcast, including daily news and in-depth reports, as well as public affairs programming.