Cures for cabin fever

MetroParks are ready with plenty
of winter activities


In the winter, Aullwood offers events from serene trail hiking to sledding to maple sugaring

By Lauren Lemons

Winter adventures in cooler temperatures

When temperatures drop during the coldest winter months, people tend to make a mad dash indoors to cozy up, but there are benefits to exploring the outdoors in cooler temperatures. From unique views of nature to soaking up some much-needed vitamin D, planning a short winter excursion is well worth braving the weather as long as you are adequately prepared.

“It’s a misconception that there’s not a lot to do outdoors during the winter,” said Doug Horvath, MetroParks education coordinator. “The trees are bare, which makes it easier to see the beautiful local wildlife in our area.”

Winter hikes

Instead of going stir crazy indoors, plan a short hike in your favorite MetroPark and see what wildlife you can spot. Horvath suggests the following short excursions, as they give you time outdoors without having to plan an all-day adventure. 

Sugarcreek MetroPark: Take the 3.1-mile green trail and experience sweeping views of bare tree lines across the planted prairie, and then take in the beautiful views while hiking along the creek. Trail connectors also allow hikers to experience additional points of interest along the trails, such as the Three Sisters and the Osage Orange Tunnel. 

Cox Arboretum MetroPark: Take the 1.1-mile blue trail to the overlook, where visitors can view wildlife and beautiful views from above. 

Englewood MetroPark: In cool enough temperatures, adventurers can view Englewood MetroParks’ frozen waterfalls by taking the 3.8-mile green trail. Patty, Oaks and Martindale Falls can all freeze over in the winter and make for amazing winter views that visitors otherwise wouldn’t get to experience during warmer months. Hikers can also take the short loop around the wildlife pond in the North Park to look for yellow warblers, orchard orioles and various waterfowl.

Taylorsville MetroPark: The 1.2-mile yellow trail allows visitors to experience beautiful views of the bare trees along the Great Miami River from an overlook. For those who wish to spot wildlife, travel the orange trail to the CCC picnic shelter and past the rock fall to view open woodlands, deer, forest birds and the remnant stone work of Roosevelt-era citizen employment efforts. Those who are interested in raptors should stop by the dam parking area to try to spot red-tailed hawks.

“Find a hill, especially along our rivers and creeks, so you can see a valley on the other side,” Horvath says. “Be on the lookout for deer and birds, both of which you can spot more easily in the winter due to the fact that you can see through the tree canopy.”

For those who don’t want to hike the entire length of a trail or want to customize their winter hiking experience, trail connectors are available along many of MetroParks hiking trails.

Winter farm fun

Possum Creek and Carriage Hill MetroPark offer visitors the chance to experience animals up close. Featuring farm animals typical to an 1880s farm, Carriage Hill MetroPark provides historical fun and a glimpse of what farm life was like more than 100 years ago. Not-to-miss programs at Carriage Hill MetroPark include:

Maple Sugaring on the Farm: Saturday, Feb. 17 and Sunday, Feb. 18, noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24 and Sunday, Feb. 25, noon to 4 p.m.

Guided Maple Sugaring Tour: Saturday, Feb. 17, 12:30 to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 3 p.m.

Traditional Sausage Making: Saturday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to noon

While Carriage Hill MetroPark offers a look into the past, Possum Creek MetroPark encourages visitors to learn more about the modern day farm-to-table movement. While the demonstration gardens are dormant during the winter, farm animals are still around to enjoy the winter with visitors. From Icelandic sheep and goats to chickens, there are plenty of animals to meet on Possum Creek MetroPark’s farm.

The animals stay warm enough to be on the farm year-round thanks to their thick winter coats. Plan on stopping by the farm to meet the animals after a short winter hike or before one of the following programs:

Discover Animals for Small Acreage: Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Fee: $5. Backyard Chickens 101: Wednesday, March 21, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Fee: $5

Traditional winter fun

For those who want a more traditional winter experience, but don’t want to commit to spending all day in chilly temperatures, consider sledding after a fresh snow or hit the MetroParks Ice Rink at RiverScape for some fun on the ice.

Sledding hills at Germantown, Taylorsville and Englewood MetroPark allow you to be a kid again with your friends while you enjoy the outdoors. These locations also offer hiking trails that allow visitors the chance to check out local wildlife.

MetroParks Ice Rink offers special skating opportunities in February, including Presidents’ Day Skate on Feb. 19 and the Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Skate opportunities Friday, Feb. 9 through Sunday, Feb. 11 and Wednesday, Feb. 14. 

But first…bundle up

Before heading outdoors for any period of time, be sure that you are dressed appropriately. Angie Sheldon, MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator recommends dressing in layers, much like an onion, as you can always remove layers as your body heats up. People should consider the 3 Ws — wicking, warm, and weather — when dressing for an outdoor excursion. A wicking layer is often made with synthetic material and worn closest to the body, while the warm layer is for insulation. Top your layers off with a weatherproof layer.

For more information on all there is to do in MetroParks during the winter,
visit www.metroparks.org/winter.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Lauren Lemons at LaurenLemons@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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