Assistant Manager – Interpretation & Education
At the beginning of the pandemic, I set out to hike every trail in Metro Parks that I had not yet hiked. As an avid hiker and a Metro Parks employee for 20 years, I didn’t have many left to finish. But it was a fun way to get out and see places I had never been and visit new trails in some of my favorite parks. I found a few new gems, but the Dyer Mill Trail at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park remains my favorite hiking trail in the park district. It is a 3.2-mile loop trail that winds through forests and fields and follows along Little Darby Creek. This trail is a little hidden and provides great views of the creek with all the solitude one can ask for.
In the winter, the trail comes to life. Walk along the creek to see frozen water and watch for great blue herons fishing on the water’s edge. On more than one evening stroll, I’ve heard the “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you, all?” call of the barred owl. Of course deer, or at least deer tracks, mark the way along the trail. When it snows, grab your cross-country skis and glide across the blanket of white.
There are human elements to the trail as well. The trail is named for the 19th-century grist mill found along the stream. The old millstone used to sit along the trail but can now be found outside the nature center. Along the trail, hikers can find a few bridges over the tributary streams. One of the more picturesque is an A-frame style where I always stop for a selfie. Hikers with a keen eye might spy a massive owl towering on a carved wooden pole. There is one steep hill that always gets my blood pumping so I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I get back to my car!
With so many trails in the parks, winter is a great time to get out and explore. Who knows, maybe you will find a new favorite or decide your old tried and true trail is still the best.