I had big plans for hiking adventures today, with the intent of driving a little further northeast than usual and visiting a couple places for hikes as well as one or two waterfalls. But I slipped and fell on a patch of ice yesterday, wrenching my back slightly, so I thought a shorter drive and easier hikes would make a better plan for the day.
So after enjoying a leisurely brunch with my best friend (also recovering from back strain), I headed north to explore a few more Medina County parks.
I decided to stop first at Letha House Park, west of Medina. This quiet country park includes trails around wetlands and a 7-acre lake as well as through woods and meadows. I started on the west side of the park, walking along the lake’s edge before the Wood Thrush trail veered off to the north and led me through peaceful woodlands before returning me to the lake.
After just over a mile, I returned to my starting point and decided that despite the brisk wind, I would continue to the east side of the park. Crossing the road to the forest on the other side, I followed the Pawpaw Grove trail down the slope to hike along Gray’s Creek, a tributary of the Black River. My tree identification skills are not extensive, so I did not spot the pawpaw trees for which the trail was named, but as I’m not a fan of their fruit, I didn’t feel the loss too keenly. After climbing back up the slope, I took the trail around the meadow’s edges and back to my parking spot across the road.
Just a mile or two away, I stopped at Spencer Lake State Wildlife Area for a quick visit. Though it looks like there are some trails running through the property, I expect they are being used by hunters right now, so I chose to remain out in the open by walking along the lake. On a grey, blustery day, I only found one person fishing off the dock, so I enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet before heading down the road.
When I plotted my course for the day’s hiking, I discovered a state nature preserve lurking in the neighborhood, so I headed there next. After driving down back roads past Amish farms, I finally spotted the sign for Swamp Cottonwood SNP. Unfortunately, not only could I find no entrance or any sign of a possible trail, but the entire woods looked flooded. I know, no surprise there, really. So I think I can cross this nature preserve off my hiking goals list and move on.
Since I still had a couple hours until sunset, I decided to loop around Lodi on the way back home and stop at Killbuck Lakes, another property in the Medina County Parks, located between State Route 83 and Interstate 71. The trail there led me on a 1.25-mile loop around the largest lake, but I passed other smaller lakes and wetland areas on my hike. The lake draws visitors for fishing and boating in more pleasant weather, but it had a quiet sort of beauty today, too.
I wrapped up my afternoon of hiking after that and headed home. But once I sat down and looked over the Medina County Parks map, I realized that I only have 5 parks, 3 rail trails, and 2 other trails left on this item from my hiking goals list. And it’s only January!
At this rate, I should be able to achieve everything on my hiking goals list this year!