One of the things I love most about Instagram is that I not only find inspiration in other people’s beautiful photographs, but I also learn about new places to explore, even in an area where I’ve lived most of my life. Trails and hidden waterfalls in the state’s only national park? All new to me. Gorgeous natural landscapes and historic structures in area metro parks? Fun new places to discover!
After I had finished my second trail at the Octagon Shelter (CVNP) on Monday, the time was just after 1 PM. A quick tea break and snack made a good substitute for lunch, and I was ready to start winding down my day’s outing with a couple of gentler walks: one familiar and one new to me.
I drove south and then west out of the park, heading for Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath. I found this farm and education center about a dozen years ago, during a time of tremendous upheaval in my life, and I quickly came to appreciate its mission, its then-director (a hip, smart, and generous-hearted nun), and its meadow labyrinth. Walking that labyrinth, especially in summer when surrounded by colorful wildflowers, never ceased to bring me a sense of peace.
Today walking the labyrinth’s circuits proved a little more difficult as the faded wildflower and weed stalks had been beaten down into the long grass, making tangled mats that tended to trip the unwary walker. So I slowed my pace, making this meditative walk a more deliberate one, and felt relief as well as peace upon reaching the center.
From Crown Point, I continued heading west a couple miles until I found Bath Nature Preserve. I had never heard of this place before last week or so, when @bathparks started following me on IG. A quick check on Google Maps showed me that the nature preserve was close enough to the CVNP to be added to my day’s itinerary, so I made it my last stop on the way home.
The nature preserve, open to the public since 2001, contains 411 acres that were once part of the Firestone Estate. It includes a field station for the University of Akron, an activity center, six trails (including two bridle trails and one bike trail), five ponds, and environments ranging from woods to wetlands. Sounds like a great place to explore, right?
Since my feet and legs were getting tired, I reviewed the park map and decided to follow the paved North Fork Trail to where it met the Creekside Trail, then follow that grassy path through a small woods before returning to the parking area. This led me past two ponds as well as the Garden Bowl (above), the wetlands under restoration, all of which were set off by trees and bushes decked out in their fall colors.
While I strolled along the North Fork Trail, I passed (and was passed by) people walking their dogs, jogging, or enjoying a brisk exercise walk. But once I ventured onto the Creekside Trail, I had the path all to myself. In fact, I didn’t see another living creature until I spotted a great blue heron standing in the creek. It gave me the side-eye while I tried to get a good photo, and I’m sure it was relieved when I finally walked away.
The nature preserve has about 6 miles of trails, and since I covered only about 1 1/2 miles, I think a return visit (or two) is in order, especially as the seasons change. Should be fun to explore!