A Raton-based alliance has created a walking guide for the area and has scheduled three free “Walks with a Ranger” on Sunday, April 23rd to launch a new walking program.

“It’s a wonderful program that’s going to benefit our community,” said Nichole Romero, Health Promotion Specialist for the NM Department of Health and co-facilitator of the Ramblin’ Round Raton Alliance. She added that the program aims to serve local families as well as visitors to Raton.

“They will be getting their exercise while having fun and getting out in nature,” Romero said. “This will make people aware of the benefits of regular exercise as well as the different kinds of trails that we have. If they start on easy trails, they can build up to the harder trails.”

This past February, Ramblin’ Round Raton began distributing the 44 page color booklet, “Walking and Hiking: A Guide to Places in and near Raton.” The Auxiliary of Miners’ Colfax Medical Center provided a $1,500 grant to pay for printing the guide.

The free guide provides information about paths in Raton, nearby Sugarite Canyon State Park, and Capulin Volcano National Monument. The guide can also serve as a “prescription trail” guide when a health practitioner uses it to “prescribe” or recommend a walking program for a patient.

Recently, the guide became available online at viva-connects.org, through The University of New Mexico’s Prevention Research Center and the associated VIVA Connects program. A cellphone app of the guide is being developed and will be available at www.stepintocuba.org/app prior to the April 23rd event.

The walks on Sunday, April 23rd, mark the official roll-out of the program spearheaded by Ramblin’ Round Raton. Romero will staff an information booth from 2-3pm that day at the Raton Regional Aquatic Center. The booth will have walking guides available, as well as free giveaways and additional information.

The free, ranger-led walks on April 23rd begin at 2:30 pm and will last about an hour each, taking place at three different venues in Raton. Capulin Volcano National Monument Ranger Will Mundhenke will lead the easiest walk, which takes place at Roundhouse Memorial park. Participants will meet at the Aquatic Center. Capulin Ranger Zach Cartmell will lead the moderate walk at the Raton Municipal Golf Course, starting from the clubhouse. Sugarite Canyon State Park Ranger Pat Walsh will lead the moderate to strenuous walk in Climax Canyon park, starting from the parking lot at the west end of Apache Ave. Walkers should bring comfortable walking shoes, water, sunscreen, and a hat. Dogs are allowed on leash.

In addition, Ramblin’ Round Raton is scheduling monthly walks from May to October, including a “Walk with a Doc,” “Walk with an Old Geezer,” and “Walk with a Dog.” Research has shown that walking, especially in natural settings like parks, is beneficial for physical and mental health. There is a growing trend for health practitioners to recommend and even “prescribe” walking to improve the health of their patients.

Ramblin’ Round Raton began organizing in January 2016 under the guidance of co-facilitators Pat Walsh and Nichole Romero. The organizations making up the alliance are: NM State Parks, NM Department of Health, UNM Prevention Research Center, GrowRaton!, National Park Service, Miners’ Colfax Medical Center, Rocky Mountain Physical Therapy, and the City of Raton Parks and Recreation Department.