Fall hiking in the parks #1 – Sept 22, 2016

Poison ivy produces one of the earliest flashes of brilliant fall color, often in late September. Photo by Paul Graham
Poison ivy produces one of the earliest flashes of brilliant fall color, often in mid- to late-September. Photo by Paul Graham (click to enlarge)

Later this morning, 10:21 am to be precise, fall officially arrives. Fall is a season of sensory splendor and delight in your Metro Parks. Crisp morning air, bright blue and sunny afternoon skies and breathtaking vistas bursting with brilliant colors are just a few of the joys that fall holds.

As you hike or bike a trail, or kayak down a stream in your favorite Metro Park, keep your ears and eyes on full alert and take a few moments to check out what wildlife are up to. Animals of all varieties, including birds, squirrels, chipmunks and deer, stay active during the fall season by getting ready for winter.

Deer courtship activities usually begin mid-October and these graceful creatures can be seen at most Metro Parks. Look for the flash of the white tail of a buck bounding across a field of goldenrod in hot pursuit of a doe. If you’re lucky enough to capture this on your phone, be sure and post it on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Peak fall foliage dates for Ohio in 2016 are October 5 to 21, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, with Central Ohio typically being ablaze with color the third week of October, and southern Ohio the last week. You can get statewide weekly color updates and information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help plan a fall color adventure beginning September 29. Another great source for tracking color daily throughout Ohio and other states can be found at https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/

If you’re in the parks this weekend, you’ll see the first fall colors but they won’t be trees. These brilliant reds are Virginia creeper and poison ivy.

Although the parks are still quite green, we thought you may want to plan ahead to hit a few parks in October. In our next few blogs, we will continue to tease you with other colorful places and great fall escapes. Here are the first two.

CHESTNUT RIDGE

Autumn view looking down from the top of the Ridge Trail at Chestnut Ridge. Photo by Mike Fetherolf
Autumn view looking down from the top of the Ridge Trail at Chestnut Ridge. Photo by Mike Fetherolf (click to enlarge)

Chestnut Ridge, rising 1,116 feet above sea level, is a great destination for observing wildlife and taking in the fall colors. Try hiking this park in the early morning and you may not even encounter another visitor on the trails. The mile-long Ridge Trail features a grove of sugar maples with brilliant warm hues that can range from yellow to orange to red depending on weather and other factors. Look for golden hickory leaves as well as yellow and red oaks as you hike. After your trek, head over to the wetland deck to see waterfowl gliding on the pond. Early mornings are a great time to catch the turkey vultures riding the thermals.

BLENDON WOODS

Autumn color on the Fall Driving Tour route to the Sugarbush Day Camp at Blendon Woods. Photo by Dan Bissonette
Autumn color on the Fall Driving Tour route to the Sugarbush Day Camp at Blendon Woods. Photo by Dan Bissonette (click to enlarge)

If you are unable to hike the trails, or just want to take the family for a quick peek at the changing fall colors without getting out of your car, head to Blendon Woods. Beginning in October, we open up the road to the Sugarbush Day Camp for the park’s annual Fall Driving Tour. Visitors can see an array of spectacular fall colors hanging from the trees along this 2-mile route. Join us anytime between 1 and 5 pm on October 16 for Fall Fun Day tram rides and cruise around the park to see the leaves changing and learn about the park’s natural history. You can also play in a giant leaf pile, roast a marshmallow and make a craft.  Activities are based out of the Cherry Ridge Program Area. While you’re enjoying your trip to Blendon Woods, look for flocks of turkeys meandering along the roadway or in the field by the ranger station.

Several parks have fall color programs with naturalists, so check out the program pages on our website.

FALL HIKING IN THE PARKS #2

FALL HIKING IN THE PARKS #3

FALL HIKING IN THE PARKS #4

FALL HIKING IN THE PARKS #5

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