The 2.4-mile Carl L. Chinnery Nature Trail is a haven for humans and wildlife alike

A friend told me once, “Sometimes part of the job is giving up.” Truth be told, this is some of the best advice I’ve gotten in a long time.

Unity Village ironwork, Arthur Zebley, Midwestern original wrought ironwork

My mood has been deplorable of late, but whenever I go through a dark period like this I try to think about being a child again. Remembering what it means to be carefree always seems to jog me in the right direction.

Experiencing one of these rough periods recently, when I found myself in serious need of letting go and letting God, I decided to take a walkabout around the Unity Village nature trail.

It once was not really a proper trail. It was a network of old access roads going from what used to be a paper mill up through the northeast portion of the roughly 1,200 acres that encompass the village. In 2016, it got a facelift, and from the trailhead, its entire length is over three miles.

Most of the trail is paved with gravel and is wide enough for a truck to drive on, but some places are wider. On the particular day in question, I tackled the trail in a pair of Steve Madden dress shoes.

Although my feet felt fine and I was easily able to ascend several steep climbs without any problem, sneakers or light trail shoes are undoubtedly better options.

The Wildlife and Serenity of the Walking Trail

As the noise inside my head started to cede, I was able to see the vast beauty unfolding around me. As spring days go, this particular one was gorgeous. It was ever-so-slightly breezy, the temperature was in the mid-60s, birds were singing, and even the turkeys were gobbling.

This last part is of particular importance because the trail at Unity Village is designated as a wildlife preserve, meaning your chances of seeing turkeys, deer, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and even snakes and foxes are fairly decent.

A Partnership with a Local Nonprofit

With my mind in a better place, I continued my walk. I was pleased to see signage, mile markers, benches, and even workout stations along the trail. These features were added in 2016—part of a partnership with the Rotary Club of Lee’s Summit. One member, Carl L. Chinnery, was a longtime friend of Unity and a primary donor.

The trail is now named in his honor.

Max Weibel, director of facilities at Unity Village, says that thanks to the donation, his team was able to add the new trailhead, updated signage throughout the route, and places for walkers to rest and meditate.

“The trail starts near the bookstore and coffee shop,” he said. “The donation allowed us to upgrade the trail.”

In my quest for finding a calm center, I stopped about halfway through my walk and just took a deep breath. I let the air fill my lungs. I felt the sun on my face and on my arms. In that moment, I was a kid again, and everything seemed so much clearer.

Sometimes part of the job is giving up: Giving up the doubt you harbor in your soul, giving up the anxiety in the back of your mind, and giving up the temptations of everyday life that can lead you off your path.

It’s truly amazing what a walk on a nature trail can do for the spirit. And it’s an even bigger blessing when it’s right outside your office door.


The Carl L. Chinnery Nature Trail at Unity Village is open dawn to dusk. The public hiking trail is a 2.4-mile loop gravel trail that is rated easy, with two moderate inclines. Dogs are welcome but must remain on a leash. A hard copy of the trail map is available at the Unity Village Bookstore and Coffee Shop near the trailhead or available online. Free parking at the trailhead is available near the labyrinth.


This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.

About the Author

David Penner makes his home in Independence, Missouri, where he grew up, and is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri. He is the managing editor for Unity World Headquarters after serving for several years as senior copy editor and proofreader. Before coming to Unity, he spent five and a half years as editor of the Lexington Clipper-Herald in Lexington, Nebraska.

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