The Lake of the Isles path, with its hills and twists, follows a route that's more of a double-helix than a boring old oval. It's an enchanted place: The lake's native grasses and flowers are left to grow naturally, which is nice on the eye (unless the gnats are out and shielded by all that green stuff). Try taking a run at sunset (or Rollerblading!), when the geese swim in pairs toward their base camp on the lake's islands, the early evening breeze seduces the weeping-willow branches, and a rare restfulness settles over the water. A cautionary note for first-timers: Lake of the Isles may look small, but it has a northern narrow finger that adds length; the run totals 2.6 miles on the lower loop (2.97 miles if you prefer the dirt track next to the upper biking path). Bonus: Because of the natural landscaping here, and because those in charge of mosquito spraying lay on the toxins in lighter doses near bodies of water, there seems to be a growing firefly population near the lake. They're not quite plentiful enough to capture willy-nilly into jars, if you wanna keep your conscience clean. But on summer nights, it's not hard to spot nature's little neon lights, especially on the marshier north end of the lake.


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