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!
Hampton Hills - Nov 9, 2015 - Spring Hollow
In May of 2014 a spring storm swept through the area flooding roads, and parks, these two parks (Hampton & O'Neil) were among the few most devastated by the storms. Hampton's Spring Hollow trail would close from May 13, 2014 through June 13th, while O'Neil Woods (Deer Run) would be closed until July 23rd, and Adam Run until May 12th 2015 (one year later). The storm brought 3 inches of rain in just two hours, washing out trails, roads, and river beds, creating landslides and felling trees left and right. In these parks, almost two years later, the evidence is still there - piles of trees, exposed cliffs, etc., but nature is doing its part, a layer of moss adorns the felled trees, chipmunks scamper in and out making the trees their home; from whence they came, so shall they return.
The cool crisp fall afternoon was perfect for a stroll through the woods, a leaf adorned trail twists and turns around trees, past riverbeds filled with trees from the storm, and up the boardwalk/stairs to the top of the hill where a pine grove planted years ago by the girl scouts fills the air with piney goodness. The trail leads back down the hill, leaves crunching underfoot. Near the end of the trail we came across a red tail hawk in its winter colors feasting on what I'm guessing to be was a chipmunk, as we approached it became startled and took off into the trees, blending in so well we lost sight of it sitting on a branch. Finishing the trail we decided to head over to O'Neil Woods before sundown to get another good hike in...
Wildlife we saw:
Red tailed hawk (winter colors)
chipmunks & squirrels
O'Neil Woods - Nov 9, 2015 - Deer Run Trail
By the time we made it across the valley to O'Neil woods, we knew we'd have just enough time to complete this trail before nightfall. We gathered up our gear and flashlight (just in case) and headed into the woods at a brisk pace. The lovely oak trees' blanket of leaves provided the soundtrack for our trek down the trail; the path was worn just enough for daylight visibility but I feared night may prove it more difficult, so we continued on at our brisk pace, as long as we made it across Bath Rd both times (the trail crosses the road twice) we'll be (less likely) to be lost in the woods.
The sunset from on top of the hill was just gorgeous, the clouds were little tufts in the sky, giving texture to the bold pinks and yellow of the atmosphere. Looking in the direction opposite the sunset we could see the tower in Cuyahoga Falls illuminated by the fleeting rays of light.
From this point we make our first descent down the extensive array of stairs. Down and down and down we go. Till, at last, we reach the bottom. We cross the road where the trail meets up with the river, and walk side by side for a bit. Turning the corner there's the newly re-painted O'Neil barn, relics from farm life still remain - old spring, stairs leading to nowhere.
Crossing the road again we begin our ascension. After the storm came through May of 2014, they changed this trail a bit, the part I most remember was this climb formerly went straight up, just up and up and up and up, it was re-routed with a chain of switchbacks slowly leading you up the hill. At the top you can still catch a hint of the old trail off to the side.
We made it to the end just as the twilight turned into night.
I highly recommend not racing the sun on this or most of the trails (except the meadows, that one is lovely during sunset). Take the time to soak in all the charm and the atmosphere of each place.
Wildlife we saw:
chipmunks & squirrels
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.