What a strange winter we’re having! This week the temps have climbed back up into the springtime range, and instead of snow we’ve had a deluge of rain. While I admit to a selfish appreciation of the warmer weather for my walking, I still find this trend worrisome and unnerving.
But I might as well take advantage of it, right? And since I finished my baking by lunchtime today, I decided to spend the afternoon exploring Buckeye Woods Park, just southwest of Medina, and check another park off my hiking goal list.
The largest park in the Medina County Park system, Buckeye Woods features a mixture of attractions for visitors: softball and soccer fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, benches along paved paths, a portion of a bike/hike trail that connects to nearby Chippewa Lake, a peaceful nature preserve, and over 5 miles of trails through woods, wetlands, and meadows. What’s not to love?
Though clouds filled the sky, I had no worries about rain as I hit the trails. In fact, the sun even peeked through a few times! I started with the double loop around the lake, admiring the lakeside trees as well as the peaceful stroll around a neighboring grove of trees before heading north. A connector trail led me past a dense planting of white pines, followed by an airy beech and oak forest, before it met up with a part of the Chippewa Inlet trail (the bike/hike path).
Continuing my northward journey, I took a turn through the woods, crossed a footbridge, and set out to walk the lengthy loop around a sizable wetlands restoration area. Dozens of Canadian geese and a handful of ducks dotted the largest pond, though I spotted a few in some of the smaller ponds in the area, too. The trail skirted between the grassy edge of the wetlands and the tree line, eventually ending up at the northernmost point in the park before curving around the outer edge of the wetlands. With the pale winter sunshine reflecting off the still water, I found a lovely bit of serenity in this part of the park.
When the wetland loop rejoined the Chippewa Inlet trail, I headed south, past several vernal pools in the woods. (I intend to return here this spring to hear the peepers!) By the time I reached the intersection of paths where I had started, I had logged three miles and was feeling tired. But though I had covered almost all the trails in the park, I had yet to explore the adjoining Schleman Nature Preserve.
So at that intersection, I turned right, crossed another footbridge, and immediately found myself on a more primitive (and muddy!) path into the woods. The trail led through a cluster of twisting trees that I first thought were crabapples but quickly realized were hawthorn trees. No wonder entering this grove had an otherworldly feel to it: my Celtic ancestors believed hawthorns to be indicative of the presence of faeries, and I would not be surprised to find a few lurking among the trees here.
A little further along, the trail paralleled the creek winding through the preserve, and I found myself grateful that a couple days had passed since the last rain. The creek banks showed the wear of high waters rushing through, and the water itself still carried a muddy tinge from the excess flow. The trail eventually veered off into the woods and looped around before returning me to the creek. I retraced my steps out of the nature preserve and returned to the care a little foot-sore by with over 4 1/2 miles under my belt.
I didn’t finish all the trails here as there is still a section in the nature preserve I didn’t explore, and I wasn’t ready to tackle the rest of the Chippewa Inlet trail. So I’ll be back!