SUP & OR RUN at Nathan Benderson Park. Photo by Carla Varisco

The loop beats the lap every time

My wife and I keep going to walk, run and paddle at Benderson Park.

I’m not sure why.

Benderson happens to be near our house, but so are lots of parks, and the other ones aren’t so exposed to the noise and traffic of I-75.

Yet we keep going.

Part of the reason, I think, is that the big rowing lake at Benderson is surrounding by 3-mile cinder and asphalt trails. That’s a nice distance. And these are high, smooth paths with an easy curve and sweeping view.

It’s a loop rather than a lap. There’s a difference. You know what I mean?

Legacy Trail blues

Now that I think about it, that’s always been my problem with the Legacy Trail.

It’s not loopy.

You ride north to south, Sarasota to Venice, or vice versa. Then you ride back, which means retracing your route. You could argue that you’re getting a whole new perspective on the return trip, but I don’t find that persuasive.

Just off the Legacy Trail is Oscar Scherer State Park, which has several loop trails that are color-coded to make it easier for beginners. All of these trails start and end at the Nature Center, which is a good place to plan your next loop.

OK, here’s where I have to admit that the prettiest and shadiest trails at Oscar Scherer are the linear ones that follow South Creek. Full disclosure.

If you want a shady loop trail, head out to Rothenbach Park east of I-75 at the end of Bee Ridge Road.

The Hammock Loop Trail is 2.75 miles, which is a nice length for running, skating or biking.

There’s a gorgeous canopy of trees. Perfect for a picnic. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a deer.

OK, here’s where I have to admit that the Rothenbach loop circles a former landfill, but I regard that freaky grass mound as a plus, not a minus.

Loopy paddling, too

At Benderson Park, there’s a new playground for little kids. That’s nice. The view includes runners, cyclists and strollers, along with crew teams and dragon boats out on the lake.

Sometimes you’ll spot paddle boarders like me, too.

Instead of heading down and back a marked course of 2,000 meters, I usually hug the shore and paddle all the way around to where I started.

There’s something satisfying about completing that full loop around the lake.

You know what I mean?

– By Thomas Becnel

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