Every year between September 1st and November 30th the Summit County Metroparks host their annual Fall Hiking Spree. Hikers must complete 8 of the 15 trails listed in order to receive a metal badge that adorns the hiking stick you will receive upon completion of your first hiking spree. Spree is free to all Summit Co. residents, non-residents may participate but to receive hiking rewards it is $10 first year then $5 for veteran hikers.
List and more information can be found here.
For us, the hiking spree really motivated us to get out and explore more of the area's metroparks, sure we had a handful of favorites already, but years ago when we were new to the area it pushed us to explore more of the parks that we wouldn't have explored otherwise and we ended up finding a few new favorites.
This year to inspire all of you to get out and explore I'll be posting about each of the trails and hikes we complete. I'd love to hear your feedback about your experiences on each of the trails we post!
Oct. 12, 2015 - The Meadow
The Meadow is one of our top parks to go to, in the spring and summer it's home to a wide variety of birds, butterflies, flowers, dragonflies, and beetles not to mention the sunsets from there are stunning!
The evening we went was a crisp October evening right before sunset. (I added a few photos from other times on the trail for more diversity). The light was glowing warm though the breeze reminded you of summer's end. We start down the trail, overlooking the whole meadow, looking very closely, we spot the family of deer in the center, too far to take a photo but those moving brown dots in the distance are unmistakeable with their white tails. Walking past the meadow heading into the woods the smell of fall leaves overtakes us, a sense of comfort falls over the trail as even the jumpy chipmunks can't startle us. Through the clearing before the bridge we listen, the sumac is in bloom, a favorite of cedar waxwings, no sign, we move on. Over the bridge, my favorite view is of the stones, dancing down the channel, too smooth to be a rock, too large to be a pebble, but the blankets of moss don't mind. Beyond the bridge is a long stretch of new growth trees standing across the trail from the old growth forrest (image3), working together to form a canopy over the trail. Turning from the canopy leads to the wetland, still full of sounds even on this cool evening. The sunset, the fog, the smells, the year's end bounty falling all around us, being a fantastically insignificant piece in this beautiful cycle, this is why I nature.
We leave the wetland and enter the meadow, a long wide open stretch circling where we had first seen the deer. In the summer this space is filled to the brim with wildflowers, grasses, and more birds and butterflies than I've ever seen (remember this post about the hummingbird moth? Yep, that was from here), tonight a calm overtakes the scene, the summer's work has been done, and now we rest. On top of the hill we gaze over the meadow, the woods, and beyond; in the distance we can see the bucks sparring, (the rut is here so watch for deer!) the light grows dimmer so we continue on. The twilight fills the air as we finish up the last stretch of the trail, a beautiful disorienting scene as the eyes don't know what to do with the lessening light. We come to the end, another wonderful hike at the Meadow.
Wildlife we saw:
3 or 4 deer
As avid hikers, Noah and I have been to many, many, parks, forests, and preserves in our area, yet only last week did we find a 'new' park in our old hometown. -Barnes Preserve-
On Sylvan Rd. just past Secrest Rd. is a small turnoff with a wooden sign letting you know you've arrived. From there, let the adventurer in you take over; a bit of wandering and you'll find the path. Walking through the woods the path opens up and you can see where other people as well as equine have traveled through leading the way around the bend where a pond can be found just off the path. At the pond we were greeted by a choir of squeaking, peeping, and splashing frogs, the day we chose was a bit cloudy, windy, and chilly so not many other animals were out. While at the pond admiring the number of hickory trees and their yearly harvest I found a Hickory Tussock Moth Larva (the white and black caterpillar; about the caterpillar: poisonous to the touch but fun to watch (really though, it'll give you a pretty rough rash)!). From there we continued down the path where we came upon a brilliant bright yellow meadow of goldenrod "The Meadow Scenic Trail" a sign from years past still enduringly braves the elements to inform travelers of their whereabouts. The meadow reveals views of rolling hills and farms as far as the eye can see. Once you near the end of the meadow trail you will find a row of fruit trees and the remains of a barn, the fences still in tact. The end brings you to the Wayne County Care Center, we walked up the road to the park's informational kiosk, but couldn't find a loop back so we walked back up through the meadow (no complaints here, just noting).
In researching this park there are many, many great things in store, a little history of the park first, then feast your eyes on all the great additions soon to come!
History of the park:
The Barnes Preserve land was once part of the Wayne County Care Center's farm and is named after the Barnes family that operated the Care Center for many years.
After the farm at the Wayne County Care Center ended operations...
"The park district was organized in 1991 with three commissioners — Peter Sanford, Libby Bruch and Stewart Simonds. And while Simonds himself put in a few trails and science classes from Triway High School made paths there and put some semblance of a pond, there was no money to do much of anything else. The district made three failed attempts — in 1996, 1998 and 2001 — to pass a 0.25-mill levy. And in 2005, Van Pelt said, the park district lost one of its biggest champions when Simonds died unexpectedly.
In the meantime, a barn on the property was destroyed by fire, taking with it some picnic tables. The 2010 tornado that tore through the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center also hit the preserve, taking 70 trees with it.
But now, with the incorporation of a Friends of the Parks organization and the receipt of several grants, plans to develop the Barnes Preserve for future generations are rolling along. Simonds launched the Friends group in 1999 and it gained nonprofit status the next year. Four years ago, Van Pelt said, the all-volunteer organization was reactivated and now meets monthly alongside the park district’s commissioner. "
(Source: Wooster Weekly News July 2015)
The future of the park:
"The development of the Barnes Preserve is multi-faceted, consisting of five (5) separate phases and will address two existing problems. First, it will address the need for the development of the Wayne County Park District to increase the outdoor recreation opportunities available within the County. Second, it will address and resolve the need for a fully accessible outdoor recreation site in Wayne County, including meandering trails throughout the woods and meadow that are accessible for all Ohioans, specifically designed to fully include individuals with physical disabilities....
Upon its completion, the Barnes Preserve will provide non-motorized, diverse trails which allow for bicycle use, skating, walking and jogging; picnic areas, wildlife observation, photography areas, fishing, and playground equipment accessible to individuals of all abilities."
To be completed this fall....
"Installation of two parking lots; handicapped accessible lot is at Pavilion (Fall 2015)
Construction of fully accessible Pavilion and ADA compliant picnic tables (Fall 2015)
Construction of a wheelchair accessible observation deck at wetland pond at woods’ edge (2015) "
More info on Friends of the Wayne County Park District & Barne's Preserve can be found here.
Volunteers make it happen! Click the link to find out how you can get involved.
View images from our adventure below.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.