How to hike through the county's largest old-growth forest

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How to hike through the county's largest old-growth forest

It’s surprisingly simple to be surrounded by the magnificence of some of the area’s oldest trees.

Germantown MetroPark contains the largest tract of old-growth forest in all of Montgomery County.

From the parking lot, go to the Twin Valley Welcome Center. There are trail maps and other pamphlets containing information about the park. Walk toward the white Adirondack rocking chairs on the deck, then follow the boardwalk to the yellow trail, which is a 1.9-mile loop.

The hike will give you an idea of what this area looked like before European settlers cleared 90 percent of Ohio’s pristine forests. In contrast to most of today’s forest – which exist because of reforestation efforts – this area in Germantown MetroPark contains trees that were never removed for farming.

You will see some enormous trees that provide a shady canopy for a rich variety of flora. Animals, including squirrels and chipmunks, live here. The forest is also full of the songs and calls of many birds that inhabit this area.

During my recent visit, I saw many Ebony JewelWing damselflies, which are similar to dragonflies. The main difference between dragonflies and damselflies is that dragonflies rest with their wings extended, while damselflies fold them over their bodies. They’re extremely fast as they flitter about the forest.

This loop trail is easy to hike, but there are areas with large roots and rocks are on the path. I recommend hiking boots, sneakers or athletic sandals. Also, you’ll probably encounter gnats and mosquitos, so insect repellant is a good idea. Carry the map with you and be aware of the markers. A number of trails break off from the yellow trail.

Want to go?
WHAT:
Germantown MetroPark
WHERE: 7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown
HOURS: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. April 1-Oct. 31; 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Nov. 1-March 31; closed Christmas and New Year’s Day
INFO: www.metroparkis.org or 937-275-7275

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