Time at Tinker’s Creek

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While I have really enjoyed exploring so much of the Medina County Parks thus far this year, I have also wanted to get started on my other hiking goals and have been frustrated over not having enough time to explore further afield when the weather has improved.

My patience finally paid off this weekend. After teaching a baking class yesterday and getting a few things done at home, I had most of today free to get out and explore. And since it’s been a few days since our last snowfall, I decided to venture to the northeast, edging into the Snow Belt in search of Tinker’s Creek.

Don’t be confused: Tinker’s Creek is the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River, flowing through three counties and a number of parks. I encountered it along a Towpath hike as well as during my visits to Bedford Reservation and to the Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek. For today’s hiking, though, I drove to northern Portage County to explore part of the 1000+ acres that encompass two adjoining public areas: Tinker’s Creek State Nature Preserve and Tinker’s Creek State Park (now under the management of Liberty Park in the Summit Metroparks).

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I stopped first at the state nature preserve and enjoyed the solitary peace of the snowy trails. Here, Tinker’s Creek flows through swamps and marshes, creating a rich environment for plants and animals. I headed north first for a quick visit at the observation deck overlooking the wetlands, wishing it were the right season to spot herons.

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After retracing my steps to the car, I crossed the road and followed the path south into the woods. When I reached a fork in the trail, I turned left to head toward Lonesome Pond, but when I reached a crossroads, I discovered the loop around this largest of the preserve’s ponds was closed. Undeterred, I turned onto the next trail and followed it around and past all seven of the other ponds in the preserve. All of them were frozen and partially snow-dusted, so I had no wildlife encounters, but the silent beauty of every inch I saw lifted my heart. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a hike more, and I definitely plan to return when the weather is warmer so I can see how this wetland world comes alive.

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From there, I drove just a couple miles to the entrance of the state park. The trail map I found on the Ohio DNR web site indicated there were four trails to explore, but apparently in transferring the management of the park to the Summit Metroparks, one or two trails have been converted to an archery course, one (through the wetlands) has been closed, and only one — a 0.75 mile loop around the lake — remains to be hiked. The skies remained overcast as I started around the water, but by the time I had come around the last curve into the home stretch, the clouds had started to part to reveal blue sky.

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Because at this point I hadn’t yet figured out about the change in the trail availability, I headed into the woods to hike another loop. I hadn’t walked too far before I reached a sign indicating the walking archery course and the prohibition to hikers (not to mention a seriously flooded and iced-over portion of trail), but at least I had the chance to spot this beautiful vista over the wetlands. I trudged back to the car, disappointed not to have seen more of the park but glad I could check it off my hiking goals list.

I made another stop before heading home, but I decided that since I had hit my top hikes for the day, I could plead exhaustion and head home for lunch instead of wandering some more. (Not that I didn’t want to see other places, but hiking in snow and ice tires me more than I always think it will.)

Not sure yet where the next big adventure will be — or even if I will get a chance to hike next weekend (I’m still waiting for winter weather to wallop us and keep me indoors one of these days; hasn’t really happened yet). But I know this for certain: I’ll be back to Tinker’s Creek someday.

 

 

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