Day Trip: Outdoor opportunities abound

Disc golfers, hikers, cyclists have scenic spots to enjoy in Freeport

Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
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(Kimberly Watley/Special to SVM)
Cyclist John Reynolds rides the Jane Addams Trail two to three times a week, and has gone as far as the state line.
Caption
(Kimberly Watley/Special to SVM)
Robert Meier tosses a disc at Krape Park as Maia Luthi of Brookfield Wisc. and his son Brandon await their turn on basket 13.
Caption
(Kimberly Watley/Special to SVM)
Sarah Meier watches her son Dan, of Milwaukee Wisc., toss a Frisbee toward a target basket at Krape Park. Brothers Brandon and Dan, along with their parents Sarah and Robert Meier, and family friend Maia Luthi, of Brookfield Wisc., spend a summer afternoon at Krape Park on the Disc Golf course. The family outing is one they do often. Meier:

FREEPORT – Sauk Valley disc golfers are lucky: One of the best courses in the Midwest is in Sterling's Sinnissippi Park, and Rock Falls added a course to Joshua Park, the town's newest recreational spot.

But local disc golfers looking for a change of scenery may want to consider spending the Day in Freeport where, for the last 10 years, Krape Park’s disc golf course has been growing in popularity.

Members of the Freeport Frisbee Fanatics club play there Saturday at 10 a.m., and any and all other players are welcome to join in. Club members pay a $15 annual membership fee, but playing Krape's course is entirely free.

Discs rentals are available for $2.

Equipped with a bag of discs, some of them diversely weighted for different distances, people stroll along the 18-hole course, flinging Frisbees at Pole Holes.

Just like in regular golf, the course is set up with a “tee” starting point and a “hole,” which is a raised basket, and the object is to make it in with the fewest number of throws.

Ron Schneider, Freeport Park District's director of recreation, says he sees anywhere from 40 to 100 players a day strolling the scenic course.

Some holes go along a creek or through woods, so many players carry more than one disc. Serious and professional players carry as many as 20, some for driver control and various distances hole to hole.

“You’re competing against yourself and trying to improve,” club member David Barber said. “How well you want to become, like a lot of things, playing guitar or piano, baseball, or any other skillset, it depends on how much time you spend doing it, depends on how much time you spend practicing.”

Maybe you have a partner who likes a good walk but hates the thought of chasing a disc around? No problem.

The nearby Jane Addams Trail, which begins just outside of Freeport, along Highway 20 and state Route 26, offers a stroll marked by rock embankments, prairie grasses, mature trees, more than 20 bridges – and it's remarkably private.

Dale Diddens of Freeport runs along it a few times each week. He is surprised how underutilized it is.

“Most the time during the week, if I see maybe one person, it’s rare," he said. "It is a beautiful place."

The trail runs along an old railroad bed, providing a flat, crushed stone surface for hikers and cyclists most of the year, and for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers in the winter.

It's also wheelchair and stroller accessible. Motor vehicles and ATVs are not allowed, and dogs must leashed and cleaned up after.

If you really want to make a day of it, the trail runs about 15 miles to the Wisconsin state line, where it connects with the Badger Trail and goes north to Madison.

If you go

Krape Park is at 1122 S. Burchard Ave. The disc golf course is on Flagg Staff Hill, and is open dawn to 10:30 p.m. 7 days a week. Play is free; disc rentals are available.

Call 815-235-6114 for more information.

Find Freeport Frisbee Fanatics on Facebook to learn more about the club.

Go to www.janeaddamstrail.com or the Stephenson County Visitors Bureau website at www.stephenson-county-il.org for more information on the trail.

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