A Path for All Walks of Life
A fitness and ecology trail suitable for all ages and levels of ability is located on the 33-acre Lopez School campus. Aptly named the Lopez Island Fitness and Ecology Trail or L.I.F.E. Trail (map and brochure), this new community resource is based on the original Zurich, Switzerland exercise model known as Vita Parcours (Life Trail). As you explore the many features along the mile-long route, you’ll see multilingual signs that refer to Parcours Vita, Vita Parcours or L.I.F.E. Trail – one name in a variety of languages for this innovative path through nature to fitness, wellness and health.
As part of the overall vision of the Lopez School District to enhance district students’ health and wellness, the L.I.F.E. Trail (along with the L.I.F.E. Farm to School program and the Evening Meals at School) provides students with an integral and unique resource for understanding and developing personal fitness in a natural environment. A vital element in the school’s wellness policy, the L.I.F.E. Trail contributes substantively to the personal, community and environmental health of the island.
Fitness and Ecology
The L.I.F.E. Trail was designed in collaboration with ecologists Russel Barsh and Madrona Murphy to support scientific research, participatory study and stewardship. Located on the south campus of school, the fitness course of 15 stations is enhanced by its route through three distinct ecosystems that includes a rare deciduous willow wetland and habitat for the endangered Island Marble Butterfly. A beautiful white and green butterfly with a marbled hind wing, the Island Marble was believed extinct until a small population was found in the late 1990’s.
The woodland segment of the L.I.F.E. Trail is an opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of an otherwise undisturbed native island deciduous forest. The dense tangled growth of willow, crabapple, bitter cherry, ocean spray and other native shrubs is home to more than 30 native western Washington songbirds, many of which are year-round residents; others come to nest in spring. You may have to step carefully around a foraging chorus frog or small black salamander. Deer peer out from under arches of shrubbery. Summer brings a flush of tiny orchids, easily seen from the trail.
The trail offers students and residents lessons in ecology, biology, botany and natural history: this is Lopez before its wetlands were drained and forests felled more than a century ago. The L.I.F.E. Trail represents the hope of humans living peacefully in and around our native ecosystems, enjoying without destroying.
The L.I.F.E. Trail is open to everyone: Lopez Island students, parents, residents, visitors, pilgrims, walkers, joggers, dogs on leash, birders and botanists, athletes and those who are mobility impaired, nature lovers and fitness buffs. All trail users are asked to respect the surroundings and proceed at your own risk. Your safety on this trail is your own responsibility. You are welcome to use the trail 365 days a year, from sunup to sundown.