Determined to wrap up another hiking goal for this year, I persuaded my hiking buddy to plan for a hike at Spangler/Wooster Memorial Park this morning, before the predicted rain moved in. All I had left to check off was a portion of the Outer Trail as well as half of the short Strock Trail, so I knew we could do it in good time.
We parked at the Education Trail lot since I knew the easiest route to the areas I wanted to hike ran through the old field. So we geared up and sprayed down (it’s tick and mosquito season, oh joy) and set off through a meadow and the woods on the Education Trail.
As we headed across the Old Field Trail, the cloudy skies opened up just enough to mist us with a light sprinkling rain. The landscape looked beautiful, and the rain wasn’t heavy enough to get us truly wet, but I did step up my pace to lead us into the sheltering woods.
The Outer Trail, as you might guess, marked the outer boundaries of the original park, though recent expansion of the park property has made room for additional trails beyond it. So once we finally made it to the trailhead (about 0.5 mile from the parking lot), we followed the trail up and over a ridge, around the west end of the park, and down to Rathburn Run before crossing to the other side.
Having hiked a longer portion of this trail before, I was pleasantly surprised to find that aside from some steady climbs, this portion was not as difficult as I had expected. A couple of sections became very narrow paths along the very edge of the ridge, slowing our pace so we could watch our footing, but even that struck me as only mildly challenging. My perspective really has changed!
We completed the Outer Trail right at the point where we needed to turn to pick up the Strock Trail section we hadn’t already seen. We stepped through a couple of muddy patches but otherwise found this easy and mostly level trail through the woods to be — well, a walk in the park!
Having completed this hiking goal, I pulled out my map so we could consult on our options for returning to the car. (Because, of course, we were at almost the farthest point away from it!) We decided to head back down the ridge to Rathburn Run so we could pick up the Spangler Trail (still my favorite) and work out way back out.
Part of the fun of the Spangler Trail is its multiple stream crossings, and we had three to complete before heading back up to the Old Field Trail. Fortunately, on this visit the water level in the stream had lowered, so we made our way across each time with no problem and no soggy shoes.
At the end of the hike, we had covered about 3.2 miles, and we finished just as the cloudy skies decided to let loose another light shower. Good timing!
It has taken me many years to explore the entirety of Wooster Memorial Park, though to be fair, I only realized the full extent of it less than a year ago. But I’m pleased to check off this hiking goal and to understand better what I want to explore again and again at this local gem.