Night Hikes!

Okay. We all know it gets dark early during winter, making it difficult to to lots of outdoor activities after work. Of course ski slopes are lighted, so downhill skiing is an option. But, what about a night hike?

During winter, the trees are laid bare, abandoned by those fair weather friends, the leaves. This allows moonlight to penetrate to the forest floor. On nights with a full moon, the effect is transformative. Instead of a dark, shady hike, winter night hikes under a full moon are magically alive and bright.

Try it and you will be surprised. Don’t use a flashlight. Just let your eyes adjust and get out in the woods. If you are reticent to try it alone, join an organized hike. Here are two upcoming full moon hikes being held at Cuyahoga Valley National Park:

Saturday, January 30
This easy 3.75-mile hike on the Valley and Towpath trails will begin at the Everett Road Covered Bridge at 7 p.m. and end at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Sunday, February 28
Another easy 3.5-mile hike on the Towpath Trail between Boston and Red Lock will depart from Boston Store Visitor Center and runs from 7 – 8:45 p.m.

 

Primitive Campsites open in Cuyahoga Valley

With the growing popularity of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the opening of five primitive campsites within Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a welcome and needed move. Located at the Standford Youth Hostel, the campsites are near the center of the National Park. In addition to making the towpath a longer-term adventure, providing these new camp sites will also allow people to though-hike the Buckeye Trail in this area. This is a great enhancement to the already wonderful trail experience.

Reservations should be make at least 3 days in advance. The sites cost $15 per night, 6 people per site. The camp sites are for hikers and bikers only. Drive-up camping is not permitted. Camp fires are permitted only in a group fire ring. Firewood is provided.

To make reservations, call the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association Reservation Coordinator’s Office at (330) 657-2909, ext. 119, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For information regarding other camping opportunities along the Towpath Trail in Summit County, please call (330) 867-5511. For information regarding camping along the Towpath Trail in Stark County, please call (330) 477-3552.

 

Do your Part

Comment on pending decisions in your National Park!

Ever wonder how major environmental decisions are made? Well, the National Park Service, and other federal agencies, must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when deciding about “major federal actions having a significant effect on the environment. Essentially, a federal agency has to consider reasonable alternatives to any proposal that might significantly effect the environment, and gather public input while doing so.

They are not necessarily constrained to choose the alternative with the least impact. They are, however, required to make a statement about it and are subject to public scrutiny. Such statements are called Environmental Impact Statements. They are created when it is fairly clear that there will be significant impacts. When the implications of an action are not as clear, and Environmental Assessment (EA) may be completed. An EA is less comprehensive than an EIS, but analyzes whether an EIS must be done or not.

When preparing an EA or EIS, agencies are required to seek public input, both early in the process (called scoping) and when they have formulated the alternatives and are ready to make a decision. How does the public get involved? How can you and I make a difference?

Well, since this blog is mostly interested in parks, here is a link to the National Park Service’s site where you can find opportunities to comment on current decisions being considered. For those of you in northeast Ohio like me, here is a link to find what decisions are being made at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

If you care about parks and the environment, you have an obligation to keep up on the decisions our public employees are making, and to tell them how you feel. If you support the decisions they are making, tell them so. If you don’t support their path, tell them that too, and tell them what they ought to do and why. After all, maybe your comment will be the one that saves a precious resource that would otherwise have been lost.

So, keep tabs on what is going on in your National Park, and get outside and get to know the nature of the parks so that when the time comes to defend it, you know what you value about your parks!

 

Volunteers Needed for Watershed Stewardship

From a National Park Service Press Release:

In celebration of the “Year of the River,” the National Park Service is launching a new Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) opportunity – Watershed Steward to celebrate the recovery of the Cuyahoga River.

The stewardship of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) resources is a shared responsibility because many of the resources the park protects extend beyond the jurisdictional boundaries. Land-use decisions made by 46 local communities in the park’s watersheds affect downstream park resources. Increased flooding, degraded water quality, and poor stream health can result from changes in park watersheds.
Watershed Stewards will help promote watershed stewardship principles by regularly attending and participating in their community’s monthly public decision-making meetings and, as they become more comfortable with the content, to engage in watershed policy discussions. Stewards will receive educational opportunities and reference materials on key aspects of watershed policy. Stewards will also be encouraged to participate in local watershed activities in their communities. Our goal is to supplement and enhance existing watershed protection efforts in order to better preserve downstream park resources. Stewards are expected to volunteer from four to six evening hours a month.

An informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at Happy Days Lodge, located at 500 West Streetsboro Road (SR 303), Peninsula. Attendance is not required to apply.

Visit the National Park Service’s web site for an application and program details, and to read more about the Cuyahoga River Watershed. For more information contact Kevin Skerl at 330-650-5071 ext. 4. or kevin_skerl@nps.gov.

 

Revised and Improved Trail Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Billed as the definitive guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park‘s trails, this new revision of the popular trail guide edited by Rob and Peg Bobel lives up to its promise. Whether you are a hiker, biker, equestrian, local historian, naturalist, skier, or just someone who likes to read a great book, you should spend the time it takes to visit the park through the pages of this newly revised trail guide.

If you have the first or second edition of the trail guide, you need to get with the times and upgrade to this nifty new version. With easy-to-read maps of each trail, and twice as many photos as the last edition, there is much more to read and ponder. As a guide put together by a local group of trail volunteers, there can be no better compilation of the park’s pedestrian byways. The Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council is an all-volunteer group that maintains trails in the national park. You can learn more about them, including how to help with their trail work through the Adopt-a-Trail program, at http://www.cvtrailscouncil.org.

In addition to including driving directions, length, relative difficulty ratings and other useful information, the new edition includes an updated, more useful index, and relevant information for trail users of all sorts. The appendix is very useful as well. It contains contact information for the parks, visitor centers, outfitters, non-profits involved with the parks and trails, and a great table which summarizes the trails reviewed in the guide.

The new trail guide contains a succinct, yet informative description of every single official trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The nearly 50 trails traverse over 200 miles of our glaciated, inspirational landscape, including trails within Brecksville and Bedford Reservations of Cleveland Metroparks, Viaduct Park in Bedford, O’Neil Woods, Deep Lock Quarry, Hampton Hills, and Furnace Run areas of the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, as well as three of our regional long distance trails: the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail and Buckeye Trail within the National Park, and the Summit Bike and Hike trail, a converted Rail to Trail corridor on the eastern boundary of the Cuyahoga Valley. Numerous updates and tidbits of historical and natural background help guide your hike along these splendid walking, biking, and equestrian trails.

Peppered throughout the book are the editors’ suggestions for various types of hikes. For example, want to find a great place to take your kids? How about the best waterfall hikes? Places to find examples of local geology? Want to go fishing, or watch birds? Maybe you want to take a great winter hike, check out the best spring wildflowers within the park, or just get some vigorous exercise. They are all thrown in with handy lists-but, you will have to look through every page to find the lists.

Even if you never walk a single trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (and you should, no matter who you are), this book will enrich your life and give you a sampling of the great pieces of history and the natural wonders of the park. Photographs, both current views of the Cuyahoga Valley landscape, and historical views of the valley, give the reader visual perspectives on the park and its features. Of special note are the Civilian Conservation Corps photographs that show some of the most recognizable buildings in the park, such as the Kendall Lake Shelter, under construction during the WPA days of the Great Depression.

This new version of the Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council’s great trail guide is published by Gray & Company, and is available at CVNP visitor centers, local bookstores, such as the Blue Heron Book Store in Peninsula, Trail Mix, across the street from the Boston Store Visitor Center, and online at Amazon.com.

The royalties from the sale of the trail guide book all go to the Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council to help with its work on the trails within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We highly recommend this wonderfully revised trail guide, which is a softcover book running 272 pages. For more information, see the press release issued by the publisher at http://www.grayco.com/cleveland/books/10401/newsrelease.shtml.

 

Winter sports opportunities abundant in national park

Check out this recent newspaper article listing the many many opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature this winter: Winter sports opportunities abundant in national park.

You could find yourself sledding, hiking, ice fishing, hiking in snowshoes, or cross country skiing. Don’t know how? The article also outlines plenty of opportunties to learn the needed skills. Just get up, and get outside!