After Sunday’s rain delay, I’ve been eager to get to the end of the week so my friend and I could finish the Fall Hiking Spree in the Summit Metro Parks. We met up shortly after 9:30 this morning and headed east.
Of the last two hikes on the list, the Adam Run Trail at Hampton Hills Metro Park was considerably longer (3.2 miles) and more difficult, so we decided to start there. As the trail immediately dipped and climbed through the glacially-formed valley, following a twisting little creek, it reminded me strongly of Wooster Memorial Park. We encountered only one other person in the first mile and a half, reinforcing the feeling of isolation, of having the woods to ourselves much as the Native Americans who originally settled here did, that we so often enjoy at our home park.
The sign at the park entrance indicated there would be primitive portions of the trail, but that must have referred to the creek crossings, where large stepping stones were laid out. Fortunately, the water was very low, so we barely had to climb the rocks at all, but I imagine those crossings would be far more challenging in spring. On other parts of the trail, though, we found footbridges over valleys and wooden steps and railings on switchbacked hill paths that made the hike a little easier.
We stopped about halfway through the hike to sit on a meadowside bench and enjoy a light lunch. I had thought this was the area called Top of the World (home to the original Adam family farmstead), but we soon discovered that to be a similar area less than half a mile down the trail. Both spots made for a scenic change of pace from the woods, though we quickly returned to the forest to resume our meandering descent back to the parking area.
Having finished the most strenuous Spree hike and given ourselves a chance to stretch, we headed back down the road to our final stop, at the F. A. Seiberling Nature Realm. There are multiple gardens and short trails to explore at this nature center, as well as connector trails to more difficult hikes in neighboring Sand Run Metro Park, but we headed directly back to the trailhead for the Cherry Lane Trail and Fernwood Loop, the final hike listed for the Spree.
The trail led us into the woods and up and down slops with views into the autumn-colored valley. One peculiar sight along the way was a large cage that protected “rescued” wildflowers from an old garden in the metro area, with nameplates for specimens such as bloodroot, Solomon’s seal, and other woodland treasures. The trail continued over a sturdy little suspension bridge before breaking into the Fernwood Loop (to the left) and the continuation of the Cherry Lane trail to the right, both highlighted by the golden sunshine filtering through the leaves.
Before the trail returned us to the gardens, we walked by Echo Pond for a glimpse of reflected fall colors against the blue sky — as well as a stop at a small shelter suitable for lakeside educational programs. And by the end of the trail, we stopped in the nature center to turn in our Spree hiking form, with ALL 14 trails checked off, and receive the shields for our walking sticks, designating our achievement.
And this was a major achievement: the first of my hiking goals for this fall, checked off!