A great place to camp and enjoy the outdoors isn’t a long-distance drive away.
One of the best-kept secrets among campers in the know is that Five Rivers MetroParks has 23 campsites. Whether you’re a party of 1 or 100, there’s a site to fit your needs.
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“It’s a national park experience in your own back yard,” said Mike Osborne, manager of Possum Creek MetroPark.
I met up with Osborne and MetroPark’s Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Angie Sheldon at Possum to check out the campsites. “Each has a picnic table, a fire ring and a fire box,” Sheldon pointed out.
Plus, pit toilets are within a convenient walking distance of the campsites.
Possum Creek’s frontcountry camping is ideal for new campers or those who don’t want to carry their gear very far. The sites are adjacent to the parking lots. Englewood, Germantown and Twin Creek MetroParks offer similar frontcountry camping.
Those seeking a more rugged experience may prefer the hike-in backcountry sites at Twin Creek and Germantown.
Camping is available every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day. Reservations are required four business days in advance to allow the staff to prepare the campsite, and can be made online at metroparks.org or by calling 937-275-7275. Pricing starts at $5 per night and varies depending on the size of the campsite.
Osborne and Sheldon provided these tips for camping:
Plan ahead. Be sure to bring proper camping equipment. If you don't know what that means, Five Rivers MetroParks offers a series of camping classes.
Firewood is furnished. To keep invasive species out of the park, please don't bring your own firewood. You're probably familiar with the emerald ash borer, but there are at least a dozen other species of incests and plants that can harm the environment.
Protect the wildlife. Sheldon demonstrated her "rule of thumb" – fully extend your arm in front of you with a thumb's up. If your thumb doesn't completely cover up the animal you're looking at, you're too close. "The bigger the animal, the more distance you need," Sheldon said.
Put food in your vehicle at the end of the evening. Otherwise, it could attract animals and disrupt their natural feeding cycle.
Don't be frightened by the critters. Nothing will hurt you. There are no poisonous snakes in this part of Ohio. If you're lucky, you may see raccoons, deer, squirrels, chipmunks and coyotes. In the backcountry, you may even see a bobcat. Enjoy.
Protect your skin. Bring insect repellant to fend off mosquitoes, and avoid coming into contact with poison ivy.
Leave no trace when you exit the campsite. "Part of our mission is education of preserving these places," Osborne said.
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