Three Creeks Metro Park Naturalist
By now, you’ve most likely heard of the Metro Parks long-running Annual Winter Hike Series. For a different winter experience, try sitting instead of hiking! In some ways, it’s more challenging than hiking in the cold, and you have to prepare by dressing warmly since you won’t be moving except to and from your special sitting spot.
Dress well by wearing plenty of layers, and you might even consider bringing along a blanket to wrap yourself in and a small insulated pad to sit on. Since you’ll be sitting quietly, you’ll probably notice more things than you do on a walk where you focus on slippery spots on the trail. Birds and other wildlife may approach more closely.
Keep reading for some great places to sit and enjoy winter in Metro Parks, including several “hidden gems” most guests aren’t aware of.
Blacklick Woods Metro Park
A quiet bench along the Walter A. Tucker Trail is a fine place to sit and appreciate winter. A nearby bird feeder provides entertainment all day long. Keep your eyes out for deer in the snow or squirrels scurrying about.
Blendon Woods Metro Park
A short walk on the Lake Trail leads to two observation blinds overlooking Thoreau Lake and the Walden Waterfowl Refuge. You’ll probably see different kinds of ducks and you can enjoy a moment out of the wind.
Clear Creek Metro Park
An easy place to visit is a bench overlooking the creek along the Creekside Meadows Trail. From the Fern parking lot, hike east about 100 feet to get to the bench and you’ll be rewarded with the peaceful sounds of the water and views of the surrounding forest and sandstone outcroppings. For a longer hike, take the new Benua Loop Trail to Lake Emily and take in the views from a stone bench on the far side of the dam.
Highbanks Metro Park
Take a 3.2-mile round-trip hike to the wetland blind at the end of the Wetland Spur Trail. Your walk will take you across icy ravines and through a mature forest. When you reach the blind, you can enjoy the view of the wetland and with some luck, see a flight of ducks or even a wandering coyote. The hilly return hike will warm you up.
Inniswood Metro Gardens
Inniswood is a wonderful place to escape the noisy city. The gazebo on the Spring Run Trail provides a quiet and comfortable place to sit. It’s between a field and forest so you can easily see birds and other wildlife roaming about.
Never overlook the pleasures of finding a comfortable sitting spot on a log, against a tree or on a rock somewhere along or off the trail. You’ll almost certainly be the only person around as you sit quietly and patiently (as much as the cold allows – remember to bundle up!). Who knows what you’ll observe?
I’ve seen owls land in nearby trees, deer wade through creeks and songbirds act as if I wasn’t there while sitting quietly on a winter’s day. Try it sometime!
Stay tuned for more blog posts in the Metro Parks Uncovered series, highlighting hidden gems throughout the park district.
See you soon at Metro Parks!