Published January 28, 2021

Stick to the trails, stick to your goals

Heads up! This article was published 3 years ago.

In this new year, find ways to take the next step to find new hobbies, create a more active lifestyle and build new skills. The region’s trails — which are free and open year-round — are a great springboard to finding a new healthy and enriching lifestyle.

Part of sticking to your resolutions is setting reasonable expectations and goals, according to Shape. If you’re new to hiking and your goal is to hike the Buckeye Trail, you wouldn’t start by hiking a difficult trail. Rather, you would start with easy trails and work your way up to more challenging terrain. The following trails are selected by MetroParks’ outdoor recreation professionals with beginners, intermediate and advanced recreationalists in mind.

HIKING

Beginning Hikers

These options offer flatter, more even surfaces for those interested in a swift or casual walk:

  • Paved trail network – more than 340 miles of paved trails
  • Heart Healthy Trails – easy to traverse, shorter trails located at Wegerzyn Gardens, Englewood, Germantown and Island MetroParks and the Wolf Creek Trail.

Intermediate Hikers

The gentle rolling hills and elevation changes make these parks perfect for intermediate hikers:

Advanced Hikers

Those who are ready to tackle longer mileage and greater elevation change can visit the following parks and trails:

PADDLING

Beginning Paddlers

Those new to paddling should get comfortable with their strokes and how to self-rescue on flatwater:

Intermediate Paddlers

Those who are already comfortable maneuvering their watercraft can enjoy paddling on moving water:

Advanced Paddlers

Paddlers confident on moving water can add an extra splash and excitement by paddling through one of the three whitewater features on our local rivers:

MOUNTAIN BIKING

MetroParks Mountain Biking Area (MoMBA) offers 9 miles of trails for those of all skill levels, including a tot track. Wet trail conditions during the winter may cause the trails at MoMBA to close; please check MoMBA’s website before visiting.

Beginning Mountain Bikers

Hilltop Flow: This 0.7-mile trail is wide and easy to navigate for those new to mountain biking. As you get more comfortable riding the loop, you can add in the optional skill features along the way or head into the woods and explore the single-track trails on Twisted.

When you get to Five Points Junction, you can take Upper Stealth back to the parking lot.

Intermediate Mountain Bikers

Mr. Zig Zag: Warm up on Hilltop Flow and Twisted, then tackle Mr. Zig Zag. When you get back to Five Points Junction, head out on Voodoo and ride back on Lower Stealth before exiting the park on Upper Stealth.

Advanced Mountain Bikers

Bike it all: Enjoy all of MoMBA’s trails, particularly Hawk’s Lair for some of the best rock riding in Ohio. This tricky loop gains 106 feet of elevation in less than one mile, crosses a 35-foot deep chasm on a fiber polymer bridge and climbs along a very steep, wooded cliff.

Once on Hawk’s Lair, venture out on the Talon, where you’ll find some of the most difficult features at MoMBA, including a long, elevated skinny.

CYCLING

Beginning Cyclists

The Miami Valley’s paved trail network is a great place to head out on a ride for all ability levels. These paved trails are relatively flat and very beginner friendly:

  • The Mad River Trail starting in Eastwood MetroPark and riding toward Huffman Dam is a great ride to start with.
  • The Wolf Creek Trail starting in Trotwood and riding toward Brookville is another fun place to start your cycling adventures.
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Don’t worry about tracking mileage to start. Begin with length of time, such as a 30-minute ride. Keep in mind that if you are riding out and back on the same trail to account for the time it will take to return.

Intermediate Cyclists

As your fitness and skills improve, try adding length of time or mileage:

  • Try riding up and down the Huffman Dam on the Mad River Trail or the Taylorsville Dam on the Great Miami Trail to add difficulty and challenge yourself with elevation change.

Advanced Cyclists

More advanced cyclists may be ready to tackle more hills:

  • The Great-Little Trail in Medlar Conservation Area includes one of the best hills to climb in the region. This trail has some of the steepest grades and is one of the longest sustained climbs of the entire paved trail network.

For more tips and tricks to help you tackle the trails, head to MetroParks’ active outdoors YouTube playlist and subscribe.

2021 MetroParks Trail Challenge

Another way to stay on track is by participating in the MetroParks Trails Challenge. The 2021 MetroParks Trails Challenge is a great way to familiarize yourself with the region’s trails and build your stamina on your own time and at your own pace. Tackling all – or even some – of the trails is the perfect resolution for those who are newer to outdoor recreation.

The MetroParks Trails Challenge, which starts Feb. 1 and runs through Oct. 31, includes 28 trails for hiking, walking, cycling, paddling, running, mountain biking and even horseback riding. The trails, selected by MetroParks’ outdoor recreation staff, allow participants to customize their adventures and work up to more challenging trails. You can complete all the trails — or just one — for a chance to win cool prizes.

Jennifer Turpin Stanfield, local mom, educator and fitness instructor, took the 2020 MetroParks Trails Challenge with her twin sister, Jessica, as a way to stay active during the pandemic shutdown in spring 2020.

Turpin Stanfield’s daughter, husband and nephews even joined in on the fun from time to time, cycling in Eastwood MetroPark and exploring Carriage Hill MetroPark. Turpin Stanfield’s grade school-aged daughter, Brooklyn, is a competitive athlete and basketball player, and was disheartened that sports-related activities were paused during quarantine. During their time in the parks, Brooklyn discovered a new hobby, fishing, which she continued to enjoy during the warm-weather seasons.

Specializing in fitness, health and human performance, Turpin Stanfield recommends the Trails Challenge as a way to get outside and get moving – even for those who may not be so active.

“I always tell people to check with their physician before they start a new physical activity,” she said. “Start with a goal that feels good and look at the trail type to make sure you can tackle it.”

Additionally, Turpin Stanfield recommends MetroParks’ mobile app, powered by OuterSpatial, as a helpful took while participating in the Trails Challenge. She gauged such things as trail elevation, length and more before hitting the trails.

You can download MetroParks’ mobile app for free by visiting www.metroparks.org/mobile and register for the MetroParks Trails Challenge here.

Note: Many of the photos in this story were taken before the pandemic and do not reflect current CDC best practices. Photos taken during the pandemic are of those of families who decided to quarantine together.

Five Rivers MetroParks visitors should always follow the CDC’s recommendations while spending time outdoors. For the most current information on MetroParks’ COVID-19 response and related closures, visit metroparks.org/covid-19 and follow Five Rivers MetroParks on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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