GET ACTIVE: Hiking into the Halloween season



A tower shrouded in legend and lore, the remnants of a village long abandoned, an eerie tunnel of trees bathed in moonlight — history and mystery can add to the mood for hikers as Halloween approaches.

“Fall is a great time for hiking,” said Jordan Hart, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “The weather is beautiful and the colors are stunning. And there are so many interesting places to explore.”

With Halloween on the horizon, it’s an ideal time to discover some places to celebrate the spooky season. And the MetroParks are open until 10 p.m. through Oct. 31 to take full advantage of the moonlit trails.

Lookout Tower at Hills & Dales MetroPark (Adirondack Trail near Paw Paw Camp)

Towering above the Kettering park, the looming stone structure — also known as Frankenstein’s Castle, the Witch’s Tower or Patterson’s Castle — was completed in 1941 and, at the time, offered expansive views of the area.

While the tower has long since been sealed up, legends surrounding the stone structure are alive and well. Park visitors have shared stories of ghostly visions and eerie figures seen near the tower for years.

The death of a Bellbrook teen inside the tower when it was struck by lightning in 1967 is a tale that has been told for decades. Legend has it that burnt images of the girl were seen in the tower despite efforts to scrub them off. A visit to the tower could be an ideal way to add a spooky vibe to your evening hike.

Hills & Dales MetroPark is located at 2655 S. Patterson Blvd, Kettering.

Osage Orange Tunnel at Sugarcreek MetroPark (Orange Trail)

Dayton Hikers founder Andy Niekamp appreciates the spooky feel of a moonlit hike through the Osage Orange Tunnel.

“These frightening trees were planted in the late 1800s to serve as fence rows,” Niekamp said. “Today, the large, arching branches appear to reach out to grab you. Along the path, you’ll encounter eerie-looking fruit from these trees called hedge apples. These brain-like balls are neither an orange nor an apple but are more closely related to the mulberry.”

The towering 550-year-old Three Sisters loom large nearby. These ancient White Oak trees were growing before Columbus sailed to the New World.

“Prior to becoming a park in 1967, Sugarcreek MetroPark was farmland,” Niekamp said. “Some say, that on a full moon night, a ghost of an old farmer carrying a lantern can be seen walking the trails shooing people away from his land.”

Sugarcreek MetroPark is located at 4178 Conference Rd., Bellbrook

Argonne Forest Park at Possum Creek MetroPark (Purple Trail)

There was swimming and dancing, concessions, midway games and, even, a racetrack — Argonne Forest Park was a hub of activity in the late 1920s and 1930s. There is little to show of the once vibrant amusement park, but what remains is now tucked into the woods of Possum Creek MetroPark.

A wall from the pool, the remnants of a dance floor and bits and pieces of street cars, once used as concession stands, can still be spotted from the purple trail. Still, Mother Nature has done her best to hide what is left of the once vibrant park.

As you explore the remains you might be able to imagine the family parties, fireworks and parades that once filled the area with life.

Possum Creek MetroPark is located at 4790 Fytown Rd., Dayton

Village of Tadmor at Taylorsville MetroPark (Along the Great Miami River Bikeway)

Argonne Forest Park is not the only “ghost town” of sorts hidden in the MetroParks. Once a hub or activity and a transportation crossroad — with access to the Erie Canal, Dayton & Michigan Railroad Line and National Road — the village of Tadmor is now a ghost town.

The Great Flood of 1913 meant the end of the village that thrived in the 1800s and early 1900s. National Road was re-routed over Taylorsville Dam after the flood and the railroad also moved to higher ground.

While many of the village’s structures were destroyed, a few pieces remain, and a historical marker tells the story of the once bustling town that was silenced by flood waters. Park in the lot at the 2005 U.S. 40 entrance and follow the paved Great Miami River Bikeway north of the dam about 1.25 miles to visit what remains of Tadmor.

Taylorsville MetroPark is located at 2000 US-40, Vandalia

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