HAPPY TRAILS! The best places to hike this summer

Twin Valley Trail is a 22-mile trail that combines a network of trails in Germantown and Twin Creek MetroPark. JORDAN HART/COURTESY OF LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS
Twin Valley Trail is a 22-mile trail that combines a network of trails in Germantown and Twin Creek MetroPark. JORDAN HART/COURTESY OF LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS

The outdoors brings a certain solace and serenity that can’t be found elsewhere. After months of quarantining in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, time outside is more important than ever.

“People often think first to the physical benefits of going for a hike or just getting out in a park and kind of walking and being active,” said Brent Anslinger, outdoor recreation manager of Five Rivers MetroParks. “But I think what even those same people may not realize is kind of that emotional health and that mental health that kind of comes along with being out in a green space in a park setting.

Though many summer events have been canceled or significantly altered, the great outdoors is still (mostly) open for business. Aslinger said that park visits have been up significantly in the last few months and that he has encountered many first-time visitors who he hopes will carry a new appreciation for the outdoors.

Saturday, June 6, marks the 28th annual National Trails Day, and with countless parks and the largest paved trail network in the nation in our backyards, there are plenty of ways to celebrate.

>> PHOTOS: Gorgeous Aullwood Garden is in full bloom

“I hope [people] appreciate all trail types from hiking trails, the mountain bike trails, equestrian trails and really kind of take that pause and sit back and say, ‘You know what, here in the Miami Valley, we have incredible assets and I’m appreciative of that.’ And then after that moment of reflection, I hope they get out and enjoy a hike or a bike ride,” he said.

Here’s a list of some of the best summer trails across the region — compiled with the help of parks staff — where you can lace up your hiking boots or hop on your bike and hit the trails this weekend.

>> Take the trail challenge this summer to connect with nature, win prizes

Prepare for closed restrooms, water fountains and indoor facilities and plan to carry out any waste brought into the parks, as trash cans have been removed in some cases. Check park websites for additional info.

Martindale Falls is one of three waterfalls found in Englewood MetroPark. LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS
Martindale Falls is one of three waterfalls found in Englewood MetroPark. LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS

ENGLEWOOD METROPARK

4361 W. National Road, Vandalia

Englewood Park is home to three breathtaking waterfalls and a unique remnant swamp that make for good sightseeing. Take the 3.8-mile green trail to see the Martindale, Patty and Oaks falls as well as the pumpkin ash and swamp forest that’s been dubbed a State Natural Landmark. The 1- to 2.5-mile South park loop trail is perfect for dog-walking (but keep them on a leash) and the half-mile blue trail along a boardwalk is accessible and great for kids.

Click here for a trail map.

Huffman Prairie reaches peak bloom in late July and early August. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/ Five Rivers MetroParks.
Huffman Prairie reaches peak bloom in late July and early August. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/ Five Rivers MetroParks.

HUFFMAN PRAIRIE

Pylon Road, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

This state natural landmark adjacent to the Wright Flying Field boasts beautiful flowers and ideal birdwatching along a short trail. Huffman Prairie is at its best in summer and is in peak bloom in late July and early August.

Twin Valley Trail is a 22-mile trail that combines a network of trails in Germantown and Twin Creek MetroPark. JORDAN HART/COURTESY OF LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS
Twin Valley Trail is a 22-mile trail that combines a network of trails in Germantown and Twin Creek MetroPark. JORDAN HART/COURTESY OF LAUREN LEMONS/FIVE RIVERS METROPARKS

TWIN VALLEY TRAIL

Multiple trailheads at different locations; accessible through Germantown and Twin Creek metroparks

Looking for a longer, overnight camping trip? Twin Valley Trail, located just 30 minutes from downtown Dayton, is the trail for you. The 22-mile trail takes you through the woods and over streams on a backpacker’s adventure close to home.

Check out ways to customize your trip and how to complete shorter portions of the trail here.

Possum Creek MetroPark features prairies, ponds and remnants of a 1920s amusement park. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/Five Rivers MetroParks.
Possum Creek MetroPark features prairies, ponds and remnants of a 1920s amusement park. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/Five Rivers MetroParks.

POSSUM CREEK METROPARK

4790 Frytown Road, Dayton

With traces of a 1920s amusement park as well as natural beauty, Possum Creek has something for history and nature buffs alike. Take the 1.4-mile purple trail through the remnants of the 1920s Argonne Forest Amusement Park or the 3.5-mile orange trail to see prairies, ponds and Argonne Lake.

Click here for a trail map.

Carriage Hill’s boardwalk is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/Five Rivers MetroParks
Carriage Hill’s boardwalk is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Source: Photo courtesy of Lauren Lemons/Five Rivers MetroParks

CARRIAGE HILL METROPARK

7800 Shull Road, Huber Heights

Carriage Hill offers boardwalks and views of serene wetlands, making it the perfect place to bring the kids or take a relaxing stroll. Take the 3.4-mile orange trail for views of the wetlands or take the kids on the half-mile red trail around Cedar Lake.

Click here for a trail map.

Buck Creek Nature Park’s wildflower walking trail is the perfect summer walk. BRAD BOYER/NATIONAL TRAIL PARKS AND RECREATION DISTRICT
Buck Creek Nature Park’s wildflower walking trail is the perfect summer walk. BRAD BOYER/NATIONAL TRAIL PARKS AND RECREATION DISTRICT

BUCK CREEK NATURE PARK

1976 Buck Creek Lane, Springfield

Grab a picnic basket and take the kids to Buck Creek Nature park for an educational exploration through nature that offers a welcome reprieve from online learning. Located behind Carleton Davidson Stadium, some of Buck Creek Nature Park’s features include an adventure literacy trail for kids, a wildflower walking trail and picnic area.

Kirby Preserve at Old Reid Park offers a tranquil place to connect with nature and spot wildlife amid the ponds and grasses. Source: Photo courtesy of Brad Boyer/National Trail Parks and Recreation District.
Kirby Preserve at Old Reid Park offers a tranquil place to connect with nature and spot wildlife amid the ponds and grasses. Source: Photo courtesy of Brad Boyer/National Trail Parks and Recreation District.

KIRBY PRESERVE AT OLD REID PARK

1636 Pumphouse Road, Springfield

With more than three miles of hiking trails as well as ponds, prairie, meadow and wildflower areas, Kirby preserve offers a tranquil place to connect with nature and spot wildlife.

At Mad River Gorge, you’ll find towering limestone gorges and access to Mad River. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park District
At Mad River Gorge, you’ll find towering limestone gorges and access to Mad River. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park District

MAD RIVER GORGE & NATURE PRESERVE

2710 Dayton-Springfield Road, Springfield

Birdwatchers, hikers and rock climbers alike can enjoy Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve. Walk along an old railroad bed surrounded by dolomite cliffs perfect for climbers and enjoy the beauty of wildflowers along the Mad River.

Click here for a trail map.

A small waterfall can be spotted off the Tecumseh Trail at George Rogers Clark Park. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park
A small waterfall can be spotted off the Tecumseh Trail at George Rogers Clark Park. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park

GEORGE ROGERS CLARK PARK

930 S. Tecumseh Road, Springfield

On a hot and sunny day, the shade of 300-year-old beech and maple forest at George Rogers Clark Park is the perfect place to cool down. Take the Tecumseh Trail to spot a small waterfall just off the park’s property.

Click here for a trail map.

Estel Wenrick Wetlands is home to a variety of wildlife including a beaver and blue heron. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park District.
Estel Wenrick Wetlands is home to a variety of wildlife including a beaver and blue heron. Source: Photo courtesy of Carol Kennard/Clark County Park District.

ESTEL WENRICK WETLANDS

2855 Union Road, Medway

Those looking to spot wildlife can focus their binoculars on the Estel Wenrick Wetlands. Keep an eye out for a beaver and a great blue heron then head to the Leadingham Prairie to spot butterflies, birds and wildflowers. Both the wetland and prairie are wet, so boots are a must.

Click here for a trail map.

The beach at Caesar Creek State Park stretches 1,300 feet along the shoreline, northwest of the new marina.      TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The beach at Caesar Creek State Park stretches 1,300 feet along the shoreline, northwest of the new marina. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

CAESAR CREEK STATE PARK

8570 E. State Route 73, Waynesville

This 3,741-acre park features trails for hiking, biking and horses along a beautiful lake. Cool off at the end of a hike with a dip in the water.

Click here for a trail map.

John Bryan State Park and its limestone gorges are just a mile away from Yellow Springs. STEPHANIE O’GRADY/OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
John Bryan State Park and its limestone gorges are just a mile away from Yellow Springs. STEPHANIE O’GRADY/OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

JOHN BRYAN STATE PARK

3790 OH-370, Yellow Springs

Hike along the Little Miami River and through the limestone gorges it carved that make this state park a scenic summer destination. Then, finish off a hike with a stroll through the eclectic and artistic streets of Yellow Springs.