James Krogman takes an early morning walk on the Heritage Trail, March 26.

Dubuque County’s Heritage Trail is a popular recreational destination for bikers, hikers, runners and those simply looking for a scenic look at the countryside. The 26-mile all-season trail runs from Dyersville to Dubuque and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

One of those frequent visitors is 82-year old James Krogman, of Worthington, who begins each day — weather permitting — with a brisk walk on the trail starting in the Farley area.

“Most every day,” replied Krogman when asked how frequently he hits the trail. “If I don’t, my day just isn’t right.”

Over the years, Krogman has logged countless miles on the portion of the trail between Farley and Epworth.

“I usually get on the trail by the grain bins east of town,” he said. “I started walking on the trail back in the 70s.”

The Heritage Trail is maintained by the Dubuque County Conservation Board, and was converted from a portion of the Chicago Great Western railroad line with a crushed limestone surface for the majority of the trail.

Recent back issues have led to Krogman curtailing his daily mileage, but exercise is a part of his rehabilitation process. He estimates he has walked nearly 50,000 miles over the years.

“Yes, I figure I’ve logged that many,” he said. “Right now it isn’t as many each day with my back problems. Otherwise, it was always four or five miles a day.”

Krogman enjoys the solitude of the Heritage Trail and its surroundings in the quiet of the early morning hours.

“I always walk by myself early in the morning before the sun comes up,” Krogman said. “Right now it’s about 6:30, but at other times it could be about 5 o’clock. I’m an early riser. There are a few people out, but not too many.”

As the warmer months approach, Krogman looks forward to the countryside awakening.

“During the summer, I sometimes have a snack on my walk with the blackberries along the trail,” he said. “I try to walk earlier to escape the heat, and there are plenty of runners on the trail.”

Krogman stated the trail is much as it was in its early days, but remarked some improvements have made it an even more attractive destination to visitors. Numerous Eagle Scout projects have played a role in the trail’s improvement over the years, with benches, mileage signs and shelter renovations among them.

Krogman plans to continue his daily routine and offers a bit of advice for anyone wanting to improve their health.

“Keep moving. Just keep moving,” he said. “It seems to help and I’m slowly recovering. That’s what keeps me going.”