It’s a city surrounded by the rolling hills of the Appalachia Mountains, and one employee of the city of Wheeling believes those ridges can be utilized more as recreational and a form of fitness for local residents.
Jesse Mestrovic, the city’s coordinator for playgrounds, park, and strategic planning, has examined several local vistas as destination points for those hiking, biking, and jogging in the Wheeling area.
“There are a lot of activities that our residents can do without having to use any of the formal facilities that the city now provides,” he explained. “I know most residents already know that these areas exist, but what I am not sure of is whether or not they have thought about using them for physical fitness.
“We have great trails that lead north and south along the Ohio River, and from the downtown to Elm Grove, and those trails are used often,” Mestrovic said. “But, for the most part, they are pretty flat, so if someone is looking for more of a workout, they could visit one of these areas along our ridges and enjoy the views of the city from those hilltops.”
The treks to Glenwood Heights, Stone Church, and Mozart do involve vehicular traffic, so safety is primary when bicycling and running the roadways.
“I always wear my helmet when I am biking, and I would hope that others do too because it’s the best way to avoid serious injury in the event of an accident,” Mestrovic said. “And, if someone uses these suggestions, they must be mindful of the traffic laws and courteous, too, when they arrive at one of these destinations because the majority of them rest in residential areas.
“Of course, no one is encouraging trespassing in any way, and as long as the runners and bikers remain on the public roads, that won’t be an issue,” he continued. “Most of the destinations I have located are safe areas, too, as long as people are mindful of where they are.”
Mestrovic said those now living in the area of the city’s downtown district can easily reach the Mount Wood Overlook and the Mount Wood Cemetery to take advantage of the stunning views of downtown, Wheeling Island, the Fulton neighborhood, and the of the Peninsula Industrial Park. Elm Grove residents can climb to the top of the new housing development that branches off Mil Acres and up Cedar Rocks Road.
“And the list really goes on and on for people who live in Wheeling no matter what neighborhood they are in because we are surrounded by the hills,” he said. “It’s all about promoting a healthy lifestyle for the people who live in the city and the area, and nature offers a lot of opportunities if you think about it.
“Even if people choose not to climb the hills, there are a lot of walking loops in the city that can be used by those who may not live close to the trails that we have,” Mestrovic said. “And when the weather turns really cold in this area, residents can now go to Wesbanco Arena on non-event days to walk. So far that has been a pretty popular activity and we’re hopeful that even more people will take advantage of that opportunity.”
Mestrovic recognizes that many Wheeling residents are very active already, and that is why his is goal is to encourage even more residents to walk, run, bike, and hike. The stair systems that reach from Grandview Street to a few different areas of downtown also are in good condition but are not utilized very often these days because fewer residents live atop Wheeling Hill now than when the city of Wheeling constructed them.
“Those stairs are clear of debris and can provide a really nice workout for those who choose to go up and down them,” he said. “Some of them can be pretty steep so it would be a good idea to check with you physician to make sure it’s a good idea for you.
“While I continue to work with the city manager, the council members, and Mayor Glenn Elliott on the plans for the future of our playgrounds and our parks, it’s also a goal of mine to identify these kinds of activities because healthy living can be achieved in a number of different ways and not all of them have to be in that formal fitness setting. It only takes a walk around your own neighborhood to do good things for the body.”
(Photos by Steve Novotney)