On Wednesday, July 3rd, I decided to head over to Clear Creek Metro Park even though we were having a poopy-weather day because I know the sun usually pokes his head out at least once a day and I didn’t want to miss it. I’m so thankful I decided to go because now it is easily my favorite park within an hour’s drive.
I parked at the Creekside Meadows picnic area and decided to hop onto the 2.5 mile Cemetery Ridge Trail, then loop back around on the 1.7 mile Creekside Meadows Trail, which connected via a one mile stint on the Fern Trail. Although there were a few other cars parked in the lot, I didn’t see another soul during my entire hike. I was reassured by the site of a couple of ranger’s trucks along the entrance road.
Cemetery Ridge begins with a steep ascent through the woods peaking at about 700 feet. The trees were fairly tall and created a beautiful canopy with lush undergrowth. At the top of the ridge the trail alternates between forest and meadows. The land there used to be a farm before it was donated to metro parks, and an old barn still stands along this trail. I have to admit, I only snapped one photo of it because it gave me the heeby geebies; not only because I was afraid of who might currently reside there, but also because my imagination tends to run wild when I’m out in the woods alone and I quickly conjured up demonic horse ghosts who threatened to trample me if I didn’t exit their property!
From there I hopped onto the Fern Loop Trail, which began by descending down the ridge through a pine forest. The landscape abruptly shifted from hot, humid air and meadows/tall trees, to a dark, cool path bedded by pine needles and home to moss, ferns and wild mushrooms. Let me state that from this point on I truly felt that I was “lost” to the modern world; I listened for the low rumble of traffic that I can typically hear in the metro parks, and it was gone. Only the sounds of squirrels, birds, and probably some bobcats (I tried not to think about that). It was heavenly. I watched a deer chew on some leaves for several minutes and felt lucky to be alive.
I wrapped up my hike by hopping on the aptly named Creekside Meadows Trail, a flat trail which, if you are patient (I wasn’t), eventually leads to several short trails that will take you right to the creek’s edge. Or you can trample through tick infested brush like a ten-year-old boy to catch a glimpse (what I did). The water was indeed clear, and I spied some minnows and a beautiful crane hanging out nearby. I look forward to going back for a day-long hike with the hubs!
Clear Creek is located just south of Lancaster off of 33. It took me 50 minutes to get there from Clintonville during morning rush hour traffic. Plan on bringing a snack and water. Maps are available in the parking lot and online. Logistical info here: http://www.metroparks.net/ParksClearCreek.aspx