Sometime last winter, my hiking buddy Keith (an architect) was asked to take a look at the new pavilion for a park under development just outside Wooster. He invited me along, and after he had inspected the pavilion, we wandered down a brush-hogged path for a little way to imagine what the finished park would look like.
Today, since the temps and sunshine were perfect for an afternoon hike, and the rain was expected to move in later in the evening, I invited him to join me on a relatively short walk/hike and gave him three options: another segment on the County Line Trail, a return visit to Johnson Woods, or explore the newly-finished Barnes Preserve, the only Wayne County Park to date.
We drove out past the arboretum to a quiet country road, turned, and headed about 1/2 mile down before finding the entrance. The land was formerly owned by the Barnes Family and has been associated with the nearby Wayne County Care Center for years, but it also hosted Boy Scout campouts and local walkers before becoming a full-fledged park.
The park features a broad ADA-compliant paved path winding through the preserve: Casey’s Trail, named for a local young man who was born with spina bifida and went on to become something of a local sports star. The entire path is fairly level and completely accessible, even the wooden deck overlooking the pond, making this a great place for people with disabilities to interact with nature.
We passed or saw several people enjoying the park: a female jogger, a mother and daughter, an older couple, a young photographer, a family of teenagers. The trail wound through a meadow dotted with wildflowers and zinnias (which I assume were planted with wildflower seeds), into the tall trees, by a small still pond, around a clearing, and back toward the pavilion and the parking area. The entire loop is just under 1 mile, making it an easy stroll to wind down the day.
Since we are at or near peak color here in Wooster, I was delighted to see so many vibrant colors throughout the preserve: eye-popping reds, fiery oranges, and luminous golds against the deep green of evergreens, with the occasional pinks and purples from the zinnias. It looks like this park is already becoming a favorite!
We finished our outing with a drive through the arboretum to see the colors there, but as the clouds were already moving in and dimming the light, we didn’t linger.
Fall is certainly beautiful this year!