Having recovered from my respiratory setback of this past week, I found myself eager to hit the trails again this weekend. I considered lots of possible outings, but in the end I decided to start with shorter trails and to explore more of Medina County so that I didn’t venture too far afield and miss meeting up with a friend back at home.
I started by heading to the eastern edge of the county and then north to Allardale County Park. Donated by the Allard family in 1992, this property covers a diverse mixture of forests, wetlands, and meadows, bordering on farmland. The total mileage of all four trails in the park comes to about 2.5 miles, roughly the maximum I could expect to hike at one time since my stamina was still a bit weak.
Having read a bit about the trail in the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Cleveland, I decided to follow the book’s suggestion of walking the Outer Loop trail counterclockwise. This led me first down a slight slope, into a meadow, and across a small creek. A sledding hill to the east led up to the Lodge, and just beyond that open space stood a pine-covered hill.
Trail markers indicated that the Green trail following a winding series of wooden steps up that hill to another meadow above. Since I can’t resist a fragrant stand of pines, I climbed the steps, explored the upper meadow briefly, and returned to the valley to pick up the Outer Loop again.
The creek meandered alongside the trail, with iced-over wetlands indicating where recent rains had caused the creek to rise. I passed one creekside clearing where local beavers had been very busy, indeed, felling small trees and brush for the dam I found downstream.
Where the trail diverged again, I crossed a footbridge to the Wildflower trail, wandering into the beech and oak forest. This section will definitely be worth a return visit come spring as the creek and a couple of vernal pools will certainly provide a rich environment for some beautiful wildflowers!
The latter part of the Wildflower trail started to climb to a higher elevation, as did the next portion of the Outer Loop. This terrain, so familiar after I’ve hiked many other glacier-carved ridges and valleys in the area, took me considerably more time to climb as my stamina wore thin for the morning. But I found my persistence rewarded when I emerged from the woods, continued climbing toward an overlook, and saw meadows and woods rolling away before me.
Onward I walked, and by the time I had almost finished the Outer Loop, I found the turn for the Inner Loop trail. Should I turn and add another 1/2 mile to my hike, or should I return to the car and take a much-needed rest? I decided to follow this final trail, and I immediately stepped into a wooded ravine that felt like a fairy-tale forest. Across a zigzag footbridge, the path skirted the tree line and the meadow before rejoining the Outer Loop for a repeat of the final section of trail.
All in all, I found the endurance to hike nearly every inch of Allardale’s trails and rewarded myself with a tea and muffin break back at the car. It’s good to be back on the trail again!