April 6 2020
Find your new favorite park
MetroParks staff recommend some natural areas where it’s easier to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing.
Spending time outdoors with people in your household is a great way to stay active and improve physical and mental health, whether at your favorite greenspace or your own back yard.
If your family has access to a back yard or other private outdoor space, we recommend connecting with nature there to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Nature is open – yet it is absolutely critical all park visitors follow the CDC’s recommendations at all times to help keep their MetroParks open. Everyone must do their part and stay six feet apart,” said MetroParks director of outdoor connections Amy Dingle.
If you visit a MetroPark by yourself or with people in your household, it’s critical for everyone to follow the CDC’s recommendations, particularly social distancing, while spending time outdoors.
The best way to limit large groups and enjoy a safe outdoor experience is to visit more remote and less populated natural areas. This is a good time to visit a park or trail that’s a hidden gem. Below are suggestions from MetroParks’ staff.
BUT FIRST — KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Prepare for closed restrooms, water fountains, indoor facilities, playgrounds and nature play areas.
- Trash cans have been removed, so be prepared to follow the “carry-in, carry-out” rule, meaning you must take everything out that you came into the park with – including dog waste.
- Do not touch picnic tables, handrails and other communal surfaces.
- Be flexible. If you arrive at a parking lot or trailhead and see it’s full, consider altering your plans. Parking has been limited at some high-use parks, such as Cox Arboretum MetroPark.
Twin Creek MetroPark is home to the 22-mile Twin Valley Trail, abundant wildlife, beautiful views and rich history dating back to some of Ohio’s earliest native peoples.
- Entrance: 10239 Eby Rd., Germantown
Visit the tranquil Dogwood Pond and view the prairie on the back of the levee.
- Entrance: 8539 Morningstar Rd., Franklin
Search for wildlife or fish at Lake George and then visit the historical former Scout camp, Camp Hook. Take the trail next to Lake George and head north to experience additional points of interest along the trails.
- Entrance: 8502 Chamberlain Rd., Franklin
Park at the Hopewell trailhead and cross the road and head north to view the Hopewell Earthworks. Take the trails south to visit the remnants of Camp Hook, the Gilwell Oak Tree from England, amphitheater, Gardner Lodge, Woodland Naturary and prairie field.
Home to Huffman Lake, Huffman MetroPark is a great destination to recreate on the water and look for wildlife. Huffman MetroPark is also home to MetroParks Mountain Biking Area (MoMBA), which offers nine miles of trails to ride.
- Entrance: 4439 Lower Valley Pike or 4095 Lower Valley Pike
Though the trails at Huffman MetroPark aren’t very long, they are perfect for spotting wildlife, especially birds. The trails are along the banks of Huffman Lake and have beautiful views. Huffman Lake is also a great option for those who enjoy fishing.
Note: This area may be flooded after heavy rainfall. Closures are posted on MetroParks’ alerts page and on individual park web pages.
If you feel like taking a longer stroll, walk across the dam toward the maintenance building and explore Huffman Prairie. Be sure to visit the prairie again in late July when it’s typically in full bloom.
- MoMBA Entrance: 4485 Union School House Rd.
Grab your gear and hit the mountain biking trails at MoMBA, where there are trails for all ages and experience levels. The Tot Track is designed specifically for balance bikes, while The Talon – a black diamond trail – features a long, elevated skinny and nearly vertical rock for the most advanced mountain bikers.
Note: MoMBA’s trails sometimes close due to inclement weather. Check www.metroparks.org/momba to check the status of MoMBA’s trails before your visit.
Possum Creek MetroPark offers a little bit of everything, including opportunities to recreate and enjoy nature with your family. Trails wind through a variety of habitat, making for an exciting and diverse experience on the trials.
- Entrance: 4790 Frytown Rd., Dayton or 4730 Frytown Rd., Dayton
Park in lots near the Argonne Lake, Argonne Forest entrance, or across from the Jean V. Woodhull Prairie, or use the 4730 Frytown Rd. entrance to access the 3.5-mile orange trail. This trail creates a big loop around nearly the entire park. Hike through woods and prairie and enjoy views of waterfronts. Visit the Argonne Forest, which is home to 100-year-old remnants of what used to be a popular amusement park in the Dayton region.
Note: For the health and safety of MetroParks staff and visitors, the Farm at Possum Creek is currently closed.
This 8-acre woodlot is adjacent from the Wolf Creek Trail and is a small but high-quality remnant of the vast swamp forests that once covered northwest Montgomery County. Stroll on the boardwalk, admire the huge oak trees and then cycle, walk or run on the paved recreation trail.
- Entrance: Accessible from the Wolf Creek Trail
Park at 8199 Cole St. at the entrance to the Wolf Creek Bikeway located on U.S. 40 northwest of Brookville. The lot is between Dodson and Number 9 roads. Walk or bike a half-mile southeast on the paved trail to the entrance of Dull Woods.
Medlar Conservation area’s 416 acres contain mature woods, fields, shrub-scrub habitat, a pond and several wetlands, preserving some of the last quality open spaces in this part of Montgomery County.
- Entrance: 4558 Medlar Rd., Miamisburg
Hop on your bike or walk the 2.25-mile scenic paved Great-Little Trail, an east-west route that starts at the Great Miami River Trail. Additionally, peek at the thousands of trees MetroParks has planted as part of a regional reforestation effort. Visit throughout the season to see what wildflowers and wildlife you can spot.
Close to downtown Dayton’s urban core, Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark is the perfect destination for a causal stroll to find the flora and fauna that bloom, buzz and fly during the warm-weather months.
- Entrance: 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton
Head to the Maria Aull Nature Trail for a casual 1-mile hike to see spring ephemerals popping up everywhere. Trees and flowers along the trail support a variety of wildlife, so there’s a chance you could spot a diverse array of birds, insects and other native animals – including spring peepers.
If the formal gardens aren’t too crowded and you can easily keep within social distancing guidelines, see what’s budding and blooming before setting out a blanket and reading a book on the Garden Green.
Note: For the health and safety of MetroParks staff and visitors, the Children’s Discovery Garden is currently closed.
Hills & Dales MetroPark features paved and natural surface trails, in addition to beautiful views overlooking waterfronts and opportunities to explore local history.
- Entrance: 580 Oak Knoll Dr.
Explore the Old Barn Camp and hike Inspiration Point Trail while you imagine what life must have been like at the turn of the 20th century. Two chimneys still stand: one next to the parking lot and the other along the trail.
The East Park offers more than 8 miles of trail with challenging elevation changes. Enjoy old-growth forest and stunning overlooks of the Great Miami River. Taylorsville MetroPark also connects with the Buckeye and North Country Trails, in addition to the Great Miami River Trail, if you’re interested in a longer trip. Access these trails via the South Park entrance.
- Entrance: 2101 U.S. 40, Vandalia
Hike through rock formations and take the 3.2-mile orange trail to see the shores of the Great Miami River. There are also paved trails south of Taylorsville Dam, which are suitable for walking and biking. Those who wish to relax by the waterfront can visit Poplar Creek Ponds. For those who wish to park and fish, use the 7790 Johnson Station Rd. entrance.
This nature-filled park is one of the largest in the region and offers opportunities for hiking, bird watching and nature appreciation.
- Entrance: 9331 Meeker Rd., Dayton
The two miles of hiking trails in Englewood South Park offer varying terrain suitable for hikers of all ages – and the family dog. Enjoy spotting spring blooms, wildlife and budding trees along the trials.
Note: Englewood MetroPark East Park has seen high visitation. The South Park portion is less frequently used. For the safety and enjoyment of all, dogs must always be on a leash no longer than six feet and under control while in MetroParks.
PAVED RECREATION TRAILS
The Dayton region is home to 340 miles of paved recreation trails – the nation’s largest paved trail network. Run, walk, jog or bike on this expansive trail network to stay active while connecting with nature.
Plan your adventure by visiting Miami Valley Trails.
Stay up-to-date on MetroParks response to COVID-19, alerts and closures at metroparks.org/COVID19. Follow MetroParks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates and more ideas about how to connect to nature in your back yard or local greenspace.