Winter Hiking at its best

Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Reservation is one of my favorite places. The big, old woods of the park beckon us to explore their secrets, even in the dead of winter. From a wide variety of trees to deep cold ravines, to rock outcroppings above frozen streams, this park is truly a winter wonderland.

I took this photo of a black-capped chickadee on my hand at the overlook shelter at the end of the Overlook Trail in A.B. Williams Memorial Woods, a National Natural Landmark located in North Chagrin Reservation. People have fed them there for years, so they are very tame. It is a great place to take kids for a surreal natural experience they will never forget.

Check out a few of the trails at North Chagrin:

 

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.

 

7 Reasons to visit a park during Winter


Don’t be a fair weather outdoorsman. Instead of being a wintertime couch potato, get outside and enjoy these extraordinary benefits:

Feel good
Getting outdoors and exploring nature provides an opportunity to exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you feel better. What better cure for the wintertime blues?

Enjoy solitude
Witness the peaceful majesty of the winter landscape. By being one of the brave few that opt for a hike on snow covered trails, you will experience a unique solitude that is rarely possible at other times of the year.

Escape to another world
A snow covered landscape can impart an otherworldly feeling that may take you back to childhood or it might instill thoughts of places like Alaska or Antarctica. Icicle encrusted cliffs are particularly great places to visit during the winter for the feel of a real magic kingdom.

See more
During the dormant season, deciduous trees are bare and most ground cover has died back. This allows hikers to get longer views of the landscape, and sometimes reveals hidden gems, like glimpses of far off waterfalls, or cloistered little ravines that escape notice during greener times of the year. Go to a familiar landscape during winter and look upon it with new eyes. You just might like what you see.

Winter Tracking
What better way to learn or practice your tracking skills? Follow a deer through its daily routine. Creep along the path of a raccoon. It is much easier to track animals further with a nice blanket of snow.

Winter Tree Identification
Want a real challenge? Impress you friends by taking them on a winter hike and identify trees by their bark or twigs. It isn’t that hard when you know what to look for. And you can exercise your brain and body at the same time.

Sledding!
So much for the solitude listed above! Sometimes Nature appears to be chaotic. No where can that aspect of Nature be more apparent than on a busy sledding hill. With or without kids, there is no excuse to get out the old toboggan or sled and head to the nearest snow covered hill. That exhilarating rush that comes from gliding down a hill nearly out of control can’t be beat.

 

Experience trails in dormant season

Don’t just be a fair weather hiker! Check out this news article Akron Ohio News – Experience trails in dormant season then get outside and enjoy!

 

Check out the Quarry Trail at Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park

Quarry Trail| Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park, Metro Parks, Serving Summit County

I recently had the opportunity to explore this great trail just south of Peninsula Ohio. In spite of the single-digit temperatures, it was an adventure well worth experiencing. With my breath providing a visible excise for my normally poor photography, I got even fewer photos worth sharing compared to a normal hike.

What I did get was a renewed sense of history. The little quarry here provided the mill stones for the company that eventually became Quaker Oats. Meanwhile, the Deep Lock (17 feet compared to an average of 9 along the Ohio and Erie Canal) helped more commerce between Lake Erie and points south. This now peaceful forest was once bustling with activity. Now, songbirds, rare plants, and hikers are the most activity this little bit of earth sees, save the occasional rumble of the nearby Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway.

Sometimes it is hard, with all the worry about global climate change, urban sprawl, endangered species and everything else, to remember that some places that were used intensively are recovering over time. While I don’t mean to minimize the very real risks to our environment today, sometimes it is good to get outside and look at the bright side. Even if there is a chance of frostbite. Brrr. Read about the trail here: Quarry Trail

 

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!