Palo Pinto General Hospital Walking Track

Freddie McDonald tries out new workout equipment along the Palo Pinto General Hospital walking trail. The site is open to the public.    -Glenn Evans | Weatherford Democrat

MINERAL WELLS — Army veteran Freddie McDonald had a question and a prediction as he came off the Palo Pinto General Hospital walking track to a Monday morning reception in its gazebo.

“Who’s in charge of the cookies?” he asked like a soldier who senses a reward coming from his morning workout on the quarter-mile circuit across the parking lot from the main hospital.

“I may go back and get my bike,” he added. “I’m going to get on my bike this afternoon and come down here.”

Those words are music to the ears of the hospital’s staff, which recently accepted six workout stations for the track. A donation of the Palo Pinto General Hospital Area Foundation, the brightly painted machines — including two that are wheelchair accessible — will add a new dimension to the hospital’s gift to the community.

“This is more for the public than anything,” hospital Communications Director Megan Hudson said, explaining the small exercise park is more for residents in pursuit of health than for the hospital’s formal therapy regimens. “It’s open for the community 24/7. It’s lit at night, and you can come use it anytime. I think it’s a good asset to the park. You don’t have any excuse not to exercise.”

McDonald wasn’t joking about returning that afternoon on wheels. The Vietnam vet and retired 30-year Department of Public Safety trooper said he’s logged 3,600 miles on his two bicycles, “ …and that was in one year.”

“I ride my bicycle here all the time,” he said, noting he comes every day but church Sundays. “And I walk. … Anybody’s welcome out here. They’ve got beautiful pecan trees.”

And, now, McDonald can work his delts and his pecs in stops along the short track on the western edge of the Wellness Capital of Texas.

“Health and well-being — it gives you an incentive to get up and come down here every day,” he said.

To learn more about the nonprofit foundation or to support its mission, go to or call 940-328-6231.