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If time’s short, suburban strolls perfect for spring

A suburban springtime stroll is a welcome option when time’s too tight for a wildflower-filled desert trek. Thankfully, Henderson has plenty of in-city walking choices, including a network of paved paths branching within and outside the driving loop through Seven Hills neighborhoods.

My choice was to get on the trail at Allegro Park, right next to Wolff Elementary School along Seven Hills Drive south of its intersection with Sunridge Heights Parkway. My husband and I spent two hours on a recent Saturday morning walking to and through all four of the public parks in the Seven Hills area. Desert cottontails were hopping down the trail. Iridescent fuchsia flashes of male Anna’s hummingbirds were hard to miss as the birds perched high on tree branches to capture the sun’s warmth and defend their territory.

After winding past Allegro’s grassy fields where dogs played fetch, we hit the concrete and rocks that are part of a multi-use paved trail system designed to provide fitness options and to help manage infrequent storm water. We soon passed through the first of four tunnel-like flood-control structures on our 3½-mile wandering. After the first tunnel, we veered left at a fork and found our way (there are no maps or signs) to the second park of the morning, Puccini Park. Tall trees and picnic tables offered shade and rest.

From there, we walked uphill on the sidewalk paralleling Seven Hills Drive, past gated communities and overlooks of the Rio Secco golf course. The next classical-musically named park we’d encounter would be Sonata, but first a wide, unmarked asphalt path beckoned. That pleasant way provided views of luxury homes, glimpses of foraging Gambel’s quail, a couple of benches and a dead end. At that point we doubled back, and the unintended extra mileage wasn’t a problem since we didn’t have a deadline to worry about. Once back on the Seven Hills Drive sidewalk, we headed in the direction of Sonata Park.

The route takes walkers, runners and bicyclists under Seven Hills Drive via another tunnel-like flood control structure that opens up to the large park bustling that day with soccer players, power walkers, young kids on playground equipment, babies in strollers, teen-age skaters and a parade of dogs. Sonata Park has tennis courts, grassy patches for blankets and space shaded by tall trees.

City hikers will just need to follow a wide concrete trail leading from Sonata to the finale: Vivaldi Park. More flood-control engineering evidence is part of that experience. Suburban landscaping is another feature to enjoy — from short-lived yellow-and-purple pansies and red cyclamens to perfectly coiffed desert-hardy rosemary bushes and gopher plants. The connecting trails are as much of a treat as the parks they link.

Vivaldi Park has a purple dinosaur for the under-8 crowd and swings for all ages, but its best attributes are its splendid views of Mount Charleston, Potosi Mountain, the Strip, Henderson Executive Airport and the new Raiders practice facility. Park visitors can watch small planes take off and land or catch glimpses of luxury jets.

The final section of our suburban stroll took us along a bluff that continues offering views of the Spring Mountains and man-made wonders. My plans to return for sunset watching were prompted by the sight of empty benches along the path that led us from Vivaldi Park back to our car at Allegro Park.

Whether strolling at a leisurely pace or power-walking at a cardio-challenging clip, Henderson’s Seven Hills trail system and sidewalks have the uphill challenges and pretty sights that can make exercise fun. The sequence of covering Sonata, Vivaldi, Allegro and Puccini parks can be reversed, or Puccini can be cut out to avoid noisy sidewalk travel or to fit into busy schedules. Another option is to simply take to the sidewalk lining Seven Hills Drive loop.

The Seven Hills trail system is one of many choices that can be made if the goal is changing up walking routines. The city of Henderson’s parks and recreation department has on its website descriptions of parks and trails throughout the city. Information is at cityofhenderson.com/henderson-happenings/parks-and-trails/trails-and-bike-lanes.

Natalie Burt, a former news reporter at the Review-Journal for 11 years, spends as much of her free time as possible enjoying Southern Nevada’s outdoors. She’s now a teacher and has lived in Henderson for 18 years. Email: nvburt@gmail.com.

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