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Fall Fun: Go Outdoors

Many athletic activities allow residents to take in the scenery.

A drop in temperature doesn't mean residents should retreat inside when it comes to their exercise program. Local parks offer several ways for people to keep moving and enjoy the great outdoors during the fall season. Many options are also affordable and can be done for nominal or small fee.

Here are some fun ways to keep up an exercise routine now that the days are getting colder and shorter.

<b>Disc Golf</b>

Traditional golf is great way to take in the sites and sounds of fall but, unfortunately, it is also a difficult sport to pick up casually. Beginners usually need a lesson or two before they understand the game golf clubs and other equipment can be expensive. Several local courses also charge a fee to play and require reservations during busier times of day.

Disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, offers many of the pleasures of traditional golf, without the expense and other hassles. Players often get to commune with nature and walk a scenic course, without the heavy bag weighing them down. Local courses are also, for the most part, free. A round of disc golf runs anywhere from one to two hours typically, according to participants.

"It is challenging and I like being out in the fields and woods," said Michael Robinson, a Fairfax resident who tries to play every weekend.

Players can use a regular Frisbee on the course, though people who are more serious, like Robinson, use special discs. Some are meant for long throws from the tee and others are used for "putting" short distances, he said.

Still, even the specialty discs are affordable. The most Robinson had paid for a single piece of equipment was about $15, he said.

According to several players, the disc golf course at Giles Run in Laurel Hill Park is the largest in the area. It includes both recreational and "professional" tees.

"This is the biggest course I have ever played," said Robinson.

Still, people with relatively little experience enjoy the course. Lorton resident Aaron Figler lives across the street from the park and has brought his young daughter, five year-old Alana, to play on it a couple of times.

"She likes being out here and throwing stuff around. It takes probably an hour," said Figler.

<b>Mountain Biking</b>

Experts and recreational bikers alike can enjoy some of the local trails. All newcomers to the sport need is a helmet and a basic mountain bike. Fancy equipment is not needed to enjoy the local facilities, which people can mostly access for free.

Springfield resident Shawn Klimeck got into mountain biking about two years ago by going to local parks. Now, he and his friends take special mountain bike vacations to places like Vermont.

"I like being able to ride through the woods. You can get a workout in a matter of a couple of hours, which is a lot fast than hiking," said Klimeck, who added that mountain biking is something that can be done all year round.

Mason Neck resident Karl Stein took up mountain biking in 1995, when he was trying to find a way to blend his exercise program with his love of the great outdoors.

"I try to go twice per week. It is nice to be outdoors and see the change in the seasons," said Stein, whose son, South County Secondary student Brett, now competes in mountain biking races.

"I like how challenges it is. It really pushes me. It is one of the most challenging things I do," said Brett.

<b>Hiking/Walking Trails</b>

Of course, the cheapest and most popular way to enjoy the fall foliage and weather is simply through walking and hiking local trails. Area parks have some great scenery, including views of the Potomac and Occoquan rivers. Many parks that are farther inland, like Lake Accotink or Burke Lake, still allow residents to be close to water.