Even in the dead of winter, you’ll run across loads of people jogging or taking a more leisurely stroll in the miles of paved and more rugged paths that wind through Hannibal. Here’s my list of favorites in several categories.

Paved Trail: Sodalis Nature Preserve.  Sodalis is known for its endangered bat population, but it’s also probably the most popular place in town for some outdoor exercise.  If you start at the Bear Creek Trail on South Main and walk your way into Sodalis, you can easily get three miles on your pedometer. It’s an easy walk, paved and level without a lot of incline to labor though. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, step off the beaten path. There are several unpaved trails that start at Sodalis. These trails were developed by volunteers who have cleared the way along the bluffs above the nature preserve.

Unpaved Trail:  HLGU/Conservation Department Trails. The trails behind Hannibal LaGrange University are not very well known, but they are a perfect hike through the woods. Part of the trail opens to a meadow that would make the perfect place for a picnic. The best part of the HLGU trail is when you stumble upon the trails laid by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Even the locals are missing out on this little-known trail. These paths line the ridges and ravines of Hannibal’s hills and valleys. There are wooden bridges to help you across the springs and creeks you’ll encounter. It’s a beautiful hour spent in the woods.

Park Road Trail:  Riverview Park. Riverview Park is the crown jewel in Hannibal’s park system, and for good reason. It is comprised of 465 acres of the most coveted land overlooking the Mississippi. If you just wander around the side of the road at the park and take in the beautiful view, you’ll have walked three miles. Riverview also has side trails where vehicles aren’t allowed. You have options based on how much you want to increase your heart rate. The park road is level path, but when you take the paved side trails, you’ll encounter hills that will give you more of a work out.

Tourist Trail: Nipper Park. The Hannibal riverfront has just gone through a multi-million-dollar makeover. This is the first destination for tourists who want to watch the boats and barges on the Mississippi River. The new sidewalk along the riverfront and moving past the marina into the revamped Nipper Park equals about a mile-long stroll.

Best Workout:  Cardiff Hill Overlook/Lighthouse.  This doesn’t really qualify as a trail, but it is on Hannibal Parks and Recreation property. Start at the base of Cardiff Hill at the overlook to the old Mississippi River Bridge, then take the 244 steps up to the lighthouse. Every day you’ll see people who are bounding up steps as part of their regular workout routine. Even if you’re just headed up the steps to get to the lighthouse, you’ll get your blood pumping and your legs burning, but you’ll be rewarded with the most magnificent view.

Go to the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department's webpage to see maps of all the trails in the parks system.