Rocky and I took advantage of a beautiful November day last week to explore both the Eastwood MetroPark and the Huffman MetroPark as part of our thru-hike of the Dayton MetroPark System. Although the hikes were very different, we enjoyed both settings and the sun quickly warmed the day for a comfortable hike in the woods.
The trails at Eastwood are just south of Eastwood Lake, a mile-long, 185-acre man-made body of water. It was completed in the early 1970s and leased to the MetroPark in 1992. The lake is a popular spot for boating and fishing and the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks the waters on a regular basis.
The northern loop of the hiking trails at Eastwood follows the Mad River. It is a beautiful stroll along this fast-moving river inviting kayakers to try their skills. There is easy access to the river at the far northeast corner of the park and paddlers, if they desire, can travel 4.5 miles down to RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton. Rocky and I forgot our paddles, so we just enjoyed the walk along the riverbank. This section of the loop trail is also part of the Buckeye Trail, the 1440-mile continuous loop around the entire state of Ohio and the North Country Trail, which spans seven states and boasts of 4,600 miles.
The biggest difficulty of the hike was finding the trail. With the paths being unmarked (other than the
Buckeye and North Country Trails) it was easy to be confused with bike paths, paved park roads and grassy areas that seemed just to dead end. I think we hiked more than four miles to cover the 3 miles of actual trails, but we thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air and lovely setting.
Rocky and I hopped in our chariot and, within ten minutes, we arrived at Huffman MetroPark, just off Route 4. The park sits to the northeast of Huffman Dam, which was built after the flood of 1913 to protect the Miami Valley. In the summer of 1919 while workers were constructing an outlet tunnel for the dam, workers unearth a giant trilobite fossil (14 ½ inches by 10 ½ inches) which is still on display at the Smithsonian in Washing D.C. as one of the largest complete trilobites ever found. We looked for its mother along the way…. without success.
The gentile path around the west side of Huffman Lake was a leisurely walk on leaf-covered trails. Coming out of the woods, we encountered a large open area on the
back side of the dam. The three long tiers of straight stretches just below the dam were treeless and we could see the entire half-mile distance from end to end. We hiked back and forth three times before entering back into the tree line toward Huffman Lake. After a short distance, we had completed the loop and arrived back at our car.
Two more parks off the list, but a lot more miles to come.