Blog Author: Ellie Rafoth, Community Engagement Intern
This Saturday, June 7, 2014, is National Trails Day! Hosted by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day is a celebration of America’s grand trail system. All across the country, people will be partaking in outdoor activities that celebrate the importance and benefits of trails.
Mill Creek Park offers 20 miles of drives and 15 miles of foot trails. These trails allow visitors to access nature for recreation, education, and exploration. Visitors to the MetroParks have the opportunity to get outside, breathe, exercise, escape stresses, and enjoy the scenic routes of the MetroParks individually or with family and friends. In honor of National Trails Day, I sat down with Justin Rogers, MCMP’s Planning Manager to discuss the beautiful trails that are found in MCMP.
ER: Can you tell me a little bit about trails in MCMP?
JR: There are predominantly two types of trails in MCMP: primitive hiking trails and paved multi-use trails. Primitive hiking trails are the natural, barren ground trails that travel through lush vegetation or alongside bodies of water. These trails offer a natural route with scenic views of the MetroParks. Historically, many of these trails developed in the 1920’s and 30’s as Mill Creek Park began to expand. Regarding paved trails, these are the trails that cater to cyclists, runners, walkers, and many other visitors seeking a paved surface for active recreation.
ER: What goes in to the planning and maintenance of MCMP trails?
JR: There are many factors that go into planning trails in the MetroParks. We aim to create a uniform walking surface that provides a natural, scenic route for all visitors. Elements such as vegetation, streams, bridges, topography, and grade all factor in to the alignment of trails. Regarding maintenance, the MetroParks has a dedicated crew that works year round to address trail issues. This crew focuses on drainage issues, exposed tree roots, and rerouting trails for safety reasons.
ER: What are the most popular trails in MCMP and why?
JR: The East Golf Hike/Bike Trail that runs 1.5 miles from Route 224 to Shields Road is the one of the most popular trails. Its convenient location and exceptional condition makes this paved multi-use trail a popular destination for recreation in the MetroParks. The MetroParks Bikeway is also extremely popular because of its expansive nature. With 11 miles of paved roadway, it includes three trailheads and various spur trails that extend into nearby neighborhoods. It travels through various environments of farm and forest and also caters to longer distance recreation. The Bikeway is the MetroParks’ physical connection to neighboring counties and the region as a section of the Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway. In other words, the MetroParks Bikeway acts as a linear park that showcases natural environments while providing transportation and recreational opportunities.
ER: What is the most challenging trail in MCMP and why?
JR: I would say that there are two trails that I consider most challenging in the MetroParks. First, the West Cohasset Walk Trail found on the west side of Lake Cohasset because of its ravine trail segments that travel up and down a hilly terrain. Another challenging trail in the MetroParks is the West Gorge Trail by the Mill. Opposite from the East Gorge Boardwalk, the West Gorge Trail travels alongside Mill Creek through massive walls of sandstone that enhance the experience of a challenging route. The southern trails through Yellow Creek Park also provide a challenging, unique experience.
ER: What do trails offer to visitors of MCMP?
JR: Our trails are versatile. As seasons change, MCMP’s trails still provide intimate views, a connected experience with nature, and allow for exploration in the undeveloped parts of the MetroParks. Whether an individual is seeking active recreation encompassing health and fitness or passive recreation including birding, geocaching, or a leisurely stroll, our trails provide options to the individuality of each MetroParks visitor.
ER: What are your favorite trails in MCMP?
JR: One of my favorite trails in the MetroParks is the trail system at the Mill Creek Preserve on Western Reserve Road. I really love this trail because I was project manager for the Wetland Restoration Project that took place in 2009. By constructing a trail system, we created a wetland system to control storm water and reestablish various wetland habitat. It also provides an interpretive educational experience of the MetroParks. As for paved trails, I enjoy the East Cohasset Trail because it was the first roadway in Mill Creek Park and the MetroParks Bikeway because of its expansive nature. A really great foot trail to experience is the Mindy Henning Memorial Trail located off of the MetroParks Bikeway. It’s a tucked away jewel; you travel through agricultural fields, forestry, then you circle a hidden pond. This trail showcases the natural, successional growth around the farm and provides a different experience and view of the MetroParks Farm.
ER: Any final thoughts?
JR: Get out and enjoy the trails! I would love to see more people experience these trails. They are diverse, well-maintained by MetroParks personnel, and provide a different experience throughout each season for both education and recreation.
For more information about MCMP’s trails visit www.millcreekmetroparks.org and Happy National Trails Day!