Stress relief is just a few steps away

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY—With a new year, many like to make a New Year’s resolution to incorporate a healthy habit into their routine. Right now, health is front and center for us. This includes physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. For those that are able, I have found it is helpful to keep the body moving, and I have been trying to make time for walking each day. Luckily, we live in an area with many opportunities for enjoying the trails and open space.

During the pandemic it has been clearer than ever that our local trails and open space have provided an essential service that is critical to our physical and mental health and general well-being. They provide us with vast opportunities to walk, run, hike, bike and enjoy nature which can be so healing. We can safely visit these spaces as well by keeping our distance from those outside our household and wearing our masks if we come in closer proximity to others.

East Bay Regional Park District has just kicked off their 2021 Trails Challenge. This is an annual program offering 20 different trails ranging from easy to moderate challenging.

The Trails Challenge is part of the global Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement that underscores the connection between a healthy green environment and community health. East Bay Regional Park District offers a guidebook both online and at their visitor centers. For more information on the Trails Challenge, please visit:

Paved trails

There are also paved trails to enjoy such as the Contra Costa Canal Trail and the Iron Horse Regional Trail. The Canal Trail provides a safe corridor connecting Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord. This trail meanders through a number of local parks Las Juntas Park in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek’s Larkey Park and Heather Farm Park, and the Lime Ridge Open Space in Concord.

The Iron Horse Regional Trail begins in Concord near Highway 4 and continues south through Walnut Creek to its ending point in Pleasanton. This is a multi-use trail where you may find pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians accessing the trail. Wheelchairs, Class 1 and Class 2 E-bikes are also allowed on the trail.

The outdoors can do wonders for relieving anxiety, stress, and depression; relief needed now more than ever.
I hope that you may find more opportunities to experience our many nearby trails, parks, and open space.

Wishing all a healthy New Year.

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at