Spend a day exploring the Green Mansions area at Clear Creek

Visitors stand amid the ruins in the Green Mansions Area at Clear Creek Metro Park. Photo/Melissa Meyer

Whether you’re an adventurous hiker or interested in the natural and cultural history of the Clear Creek Metro Park area, a visit to the newly opened Green Mansions area is a must-see, must-do venture.

 

Emily and William Benua built their home in the Clear Creek Valley with a commanding view overlooking a dense forest canopy in 1959. Their donation of more than 600 acres of land in the ‘90s helped lay the groundwork for the growth of Metro Park’s intensive conservation efforts in this truly spectacular natural area. Photo/Katie Bennett

This remote and scenic area was once the site of the Emily and William Benua homestead, an impressive 4,700-square-foot structure situated on a hillside surrounded by a forest overlooking a 14-acre lake. Metro Parks acquired the property and a portion of the land surrounding the house in the early 90s thanks to a generous donation in Emily Benua’s will. The park system subsequently purchased additional acreage from the family.

Two years ago, Metro Parks tore down the house and left stone structural remnants so visitors can walk around and imagine what it would have been like in this bucolic setting as they watch belted kingfishers soaring above Lake Emily. Providing this opportunity for visitors to experience the beauties and wonders of the Clear Creek Valley is very much in keeping with the intent of the Benua family, said to Metro Parks Executive Director Tim Moloney.

Hikers on the two trails in the Green Mansion Area will traverse diverse habitats and be rewarded with seeing and hearing a vast array of flora and fauna. Photo/Katie Bennett

To get to the Green Mansions Area, start at the park office at 185 Clear Creek Road and take the 1.9-mile Benua Loop Trail. The west side of the loop is mostly shaded (until you reach the dam) with level terrain. Hikers will experience an uphill climb on the east of the loop trail – this portion of the trail is well shaded. This trail is a combination of forest and open fields leading to Lake Emily. Views of Clear Creek are offered at the start of the trail and a small stream parallels the west side of the loop trail on the way to Lake Emily. Visitors will enjoy sights of sandstone outcroppings, eastern hemlock trees and seasonal wildflowers along the way.

The Green Mansions Trail is a 0.4-mile connector trail that leads visitors to the homesite. The dense hemlock canopy along this trail blocks out sunlight creating a noticeable cooling effect in the air temperature. A steep ravine on the south side of the trail provides scenic views as well.

Visitors can expect to see the same diversity of plants and trees along the two trails. Hemlock trees as well as a variety of deciduous trees (oaks, tulip poplar, maples, Ohio buckeye and hickory) surround the trails. Visitors can also see mountain laurel, redbuds and dogwoods. In late summer, Joe Pye weed and ironweed bloom in the open fields.

16 thoughts on “Spend a day exploring the Green Mansions area at Clear Creek

    1. Hi, Rose. Dogs are not permitted in this area, but they are welcome on the Creekside Meadows Trail which is pet-friendly.

  1. Was there with ranger over 20 years ago. Pls reply it is now ranger-absent trail.

  2. Exciting I can’t wait to check out the new trail. I have been in the house on a hike but it has been years.

    1. Hi, Steve. We wanted to make the area and trails available to the public. Park staff evaluated several options for the area and maintaining the house did not fit in with our plans for providing natural areas for people to enjoy.

    1. Hi, Suzette. We wanted to make the area and trails available to the public. Park staff evaluated several options for the area and maintaining the house did not fit in with our plans for providing natural areas for people to enjoy.

  3. Just checked it out for the first time yesterday. Was an awesome sight even tho it had been torn down.

    Thanks for opening it up to the public 😊

  4. The foundation remains are not natural either, yet you kept those. Looks like a rubble pile now.

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