Get outside

Get out and live

By Valerie Beerbower

Engaging in an active lifestyle has never been easier with Five Rivers MetroParks. Regardless of skill level, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the world of outdoor recreation. Take a hike through natural Ohio habitat, paddle your kayak or canoe along the scenic rivers, ride hundreds of miles of bikeways, or play a game of hide-and-seek among the trees. Here are a few tips if you’re just getting started, or if you’ve found yourself in a recreational rut.


With 25 facilities covering more than 15,000 acres, there’s always some place new to explore. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut—you’re short on time, so you end up visiting the same park, hike the same trails, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with repeat visits to your favorite MetroPark, why not shake things up a little and visit a new location or try a new activity? Here are a few suggestions to break out of your routine when you get outside:

Take a new loop:

Many trails have overlapping loops. Why not extend your circle or take an alternative route? Plan your adventure by downloading a map at or head to a kiosk or visitor’s center at a MetroPark and find your new trail on a map.

Visit a new park:

No matter where you are in the greater Dayton area, you’re about 15 minutes away from a MetroPark. Set aside some time and visit a different park. Who knows—you may end up with a new favorite!

Challenge yourself:

Sometimes adding an element of challenge can be a breath of fresh air. Whether you walk or run the trails, try to beat your fastest time. Find out how you stack up against mountain bikers, snowboarders, kayakers and climbers at this year’s
GearFest Oct. 1-2.

Stop, look and listen:

The same advice that keeps kids safe when crossing the street can help you find a new appreciation for your favorite park. While you’re biking, hiking, paddling or otherwise enjoying the park, pause and count to 10. Look around and try to identify plants you can see, or the bird call you hear. You’ll be surprised what you notice when you take the time to do so.

Engage in
a new activity:

Consider trying a new outdoor activity. Try It! Programs are designed for newcomers to get acclimated to the gear or engage in the activity and see if it’s for them. Try Backpacking! is coming up Oct. 14 at Englewood MetroPark. Here, guests can try out the gear themselves before they make any kind of big investment in time and finances. If you like hiking and camping, why not give backpacking a try? It will help bust you out of your recreation rut.


Patrons of the 6th annual GearFest, presented by Subaru, will be inundated with inspiration to “get out and live.” The whole family can enjoy something at this free event, set for Oct. 1-2 at Eastwood MetroPark. From camping to disc golf to kayaking, there’s something for everyone—and on-site exhibitors will hook you up with the gear you need to bust your rut completely. Even kids can get engaged in the Youth Adventure Zone. Whether you’re a casual outdoor enthusiast or a hard-core rec junkie, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at GearFest.

Families will love free overnight camping in the Eddie Bauer campground at the event. Watch high-adrenaline demos in the Mad River Mountain Action Sports Area, such as mountain boarding, snowboarding, skateboarding, slacklining or mountain biking. Participate in a competition, such as the Off Road 5K presented by Runners Plus or the “Rock the Clock” speed climb-ing, Cross Country Classic Mountain Bike Race or “The Hunt for Shred October” snowboard competition. You can also try out an activity you’ve never done before. Kayak or canoe  on the Mad River, test your skills on the climbing wall, take a ride on the Mad River Bikeway, get the lowdown on the geocaching craze, have a “fling” with nine holes of disc golf, or cast off with fishing and fly fishing opportunities. Live music, food vendors and Friday night’s Yakima Beer Garden add to the weekend entertainment. Subaru owners will receive free lift tickets to Mad River Mountain Ski Resort when they drive their Subarus to GearFest. Hit up the exhibitor village or consignment area to get the gear you need to get out and live.

Get the weekend’s complete schedule, learn about all the various demonstrations, plan a strategy for hitting up your desired exhibitors and more at

Reach freelance writer Valerie Beerbower at

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