It’s funny how the mind works sometimes. A few words can create a certain impression in your mind, and you never challenge that assumption until later experience brings you back to reevaluate it.
Last year, as I started exploring CVNP trails aside from the Towpath, I read that the Salt Run Trail, a 3.25-mile trail leading west from Kendall Lake, was one of the most challenging trails in the area. Oooh, I thought, I don’t think I’m ready for that!
Fast forward to today, when I have many other CVNP trails (and trails elsewhere) checked off. I decided it was time to reevaluate my first impressions.
What made this trail “challenging”? The length? I’ve taken longer hikes in the area (Plateau and Old Carriage Trails, to name two).
The steep hills? Adam Run in Hampton Hills Metro Park had plenty of those.
Lots of elevation changes? Most trails in the CVNP and neighboring parks offer that variety.
So I decided to find out what the fuss was about.
I parked in the Pine Hollow area of Kendall Hills before the official sunrise. The sky was light but overcast, so as I walked into the woods, thick shadows obscured my sight for a while until the day brightened.
I walked forth with caution, of course, not wanting to trip over a tree root and tumble into a patch of poison ivy. But I could still appreciate the muted light, the lush undergrowth, and the startled flapping of a large owl.
The trail meandered up and down through hills and valleys, and though a couple hills involved long flights of steps, nothing seemed too daunting. By the time the trail came close to Akron-Peninsula Road, it turned north for a while before looping back toward Kendall Hills, through some lush areas of thick vegetation where I spotted deer and a rabbit.
After climbing another ridge, I followed the path into the valley where Salt Run trickled under footbridges and fallen trees. The light dimmed a bit as I headed under cover of hemlocks and pines, but occasionally the canopy cleared just enough to create spotlights throughout the woods.
Eventually the trail came to a fork, with the left path leading to Kendall Lake and the right path back to Pine Hollow. I decided to detour toward the lake, enjoying the clear reflections in its still surface dotted with water lilies, before heading back to my starting point.
Yes, with multiple ups and downs, the Salt Run Trail did prove a little more challenging to my stamina, though I wouldn’t necessarily label it as difficult. After all, if I could do it on my own with only one real break in the hike, it can’t be all bad!