I moved to Ohio after living in (pure) Michigan. I got my dream job so I had to say goodbye to the mitten and move down to the state that I was raised to hate. Most people told me Ohio was boring, and that Toledo was the worst. After living here now for two years I have discovered that Ohio is great if you love two things: hiking and beer.
Lucky for me… these are a few of my favorite things.
So lets say you just recently moved to Toledo, and you are craving some outdoors time… here are my 6 favorite parks within an hour drive of Toledo that you should definitely check out. As far as the beer goes… check out Maumee Bay brewing, Earnest Brewing, and Black Cloister (but really this post isn’t about beer…..so read on….).
***All of these parks are all FREE to enter. So… you know… take that, Michigan….just kidding, Michigan, forgive me, I love you.
#1… Oak Openings Preserve Metropark
This place is becoming rather legendary (bold word choice, I know). There is a spot here, that is referred to as “The Spot” (gasp!), where 1,200 red pines were planted about 60 years ago in the most organized fashion. Even though this area is increasing in popularity, I typically go here once or twice a month and have yet to run into any humans while I am here. Not only is “The Spot” pretty fantastic, but also across the street and up the road is the sand dunes, which has a great trail that goes through them.
What you MUST do here: Go to “The Spot”, lay on your back, and watch the tree tops sway. Sounds weird. BUT DO IT. It almost immediately solves all of the world’s problems and promptly gives you peace.
Getting to “The Spot”…. you can’t just put the Metropark into your GPS and end up at the spot…so if you are on Airport Highway, find Girdham road and take that south… keep an eye out for some sweet looking trees on your right hand side. If you pass by a wooden fenced area on your left hand side, you’ve gone too far, but you have arrived at the sand dunes! Park by the dunes and walk back up the road until you see the trees.
#2… Ottawa Wildlife Refuge
Do you like birds? Because go here. The trails are long and bountiful here, but they are all out in the open (so bring sunscreen if you’re hiking in the blazing sun). The wildlife here is why this place is my second favorite park to hike in the Toledo area. The trails are in a grid pattern, so just pick a couple squares and hike them, you won’t be disappointed.
#3…Maumee Bay State Park
They have a beach and a boardwalk. What more could you want? There are also a handful of other trails and even a single tall hill that everyone seems to be excited about here. Definitely worth the trip, but take note if you want to do the boardwalk or spend time on the beach, leave your furry children at home. That being said, there are plenty of other hiking trails that are dog friendly here.
#4…Side Cut Metropark
A great riverside park with excellent trails. This park is pretty close to my house, and therefore you can find me here once a week or so. There is a sledding hill for the winter time, too.
#5… Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve
Go here during the summer to enjoy some gorgeous flowers. The boardwalk is really nice and makes for some easy hiking. Keep an eye out for turtles, this is a great place to spot them and they are rather adorable.
#6… Secor Metropark
They call this a “mini oak openings”… and there are a lot of trails to explore here! Head here for wildflowers and some nice, quiet nature time.