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Adventure of the week: Take a healthy hike along the American River

For those who are tired of lifting the same old weights -- or terrified of lifting them at all -- the American River Conservancy offers Nature's Par Course, a hiking and exercise course that relies on found objects such as rocks and tree limbs for a wilderness workout.

"We just decided to combine our love of the outdoors with some different kinds of hiking adventures where you can incorporate certain kinds of exercise," said Robert Meyer, who leads the hikes with his wife, Virginia.

Participants may try pull-ups on branches, standing-inclined pushups on fences and various exercises with rocks. But they don't necessarily have to be in rock-hard shape; the Meyers will tailor the workouts to participants' abilities. (Good thing, too: With 10 to 12 hours a week of workouts indoors and out, the couple would be tough to match in the outdoors.)

"It's not for the hard-core workout junkies," Robert Meyer said. "I'd say it's more for people who are not quite in good physical condition who would like to get a little better. As long as they can walk a couple of miles without stressing themselves, we'll accommodate whomever."

In addition to charging up hills, the Meyers can answer questions about the environment. Robert Meyer is a retired hydrologist and Virginia Meyer teaches biology at Sacramento City College.

The workout hike is a first for the Meyers, who have led walks since the early 1990s. If enough people show interest, they may lead more fitness jaunts through American River Conservancy lands.

Nature's Par Course hike

When: 10 a.m. to noon Sunday

Where: Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, on Highway 49 midway between Interstate 80 and Highway 50 in El Dorado County

Cost: $10, $5 for American River Conservancy members

Note: Organizers suggest checking with your physician before signing up

Information: Call the American River Conservancy at (530) 621-1224 or e-mail Debbie Tachibana at For more information on the Conservancy, visit