The crazy weather and my equally crazy schedule this summer have slowed my hiking progress a bit, leaving me with only Sundays for longer expeditions. And as last week wound down, I decided that I wanted to explore somewhere both new to me and yet so very familiar.
To that end, I headed north to the area where I grew up. I stopped first at Findley State Park, one of the first places where I went camping with my parents. I hiked a couple of lakeside trails, enjoying the morning sunshine, but I skipped the trails on the opposite shore as they wove through the camping area.
From there, I headed north through Wellington (where I used to display my 4-H projects and awards at the county fair), swung around Oberlin (where I used to visit cousins), and up to Birmingham (where I went apple picking with my mom). I just recently learned about Schoepfle Garden, a part of the Lorain County Metropark system, and decided to spend some time enjoying the lovely roses and other colorful flowers as well as shaded paths, peaceful ponds, and a walk along the river.
But my main destination for the day was a short drive south and west: Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve. Tucked along a rural road, this nature preserve had multiple trails through woods and reclaimed fields, and I spent a nice portion of the morning exploring there (and had it all to myself!).
The main trail starts at the parking area and passes a beautiful semi-hidden pond before taking a wide loop around and then through a reclaimed farm field. On the woods side of the trail, I found plenty of staghorn sumac bushes with their clusters of color, and the field side sported pops of blue (chicory), white (Queen Anne’s lace), gold (black-eyed Susans), and other summer wildflower hues.
The first secondary trail I came to, the Spring Trail, led me into the woods and down the slope toward the river. Unfortunately, the trail narrowed almost to the point of impassibility, being overgrown, and I quickly gave up on it when it looked like I might end up wading through poison ivy.
Further along the field loop, I came to the sign for the Sassafras Trail, which had the warning to “stay on the trail.” I discovered why as the trail led down and skirted the very edge of the cliff over the Vermilion River. The cliff did not rise exceptionally high over the river, but the erosion at the edge of the path made me very cautious about my steps.
After that 1/2-mile diversion, I returned to the Field Trail and walked through the field back to my starting point. With the sun beating down, heating the air considerably, I decided not to linger — or to ponder any further hiking for the day!