The hard part is choosing

MetroParks’ offerings for playing and planning

by Kristen Wicker

Photo: Hikers tackle January at Possum Creek MetroPark

Outdoors and in, winter offers plenty of ways to connect with nature.

Skating By

One of the most popular ways to experience the outdoors is skating at the MetroParks Ice Rink at RiverScape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave. The rink is open daily through Feb. 28. Visit or call 937.278.2607 for more info. Upcoming events, which cost $7 for admission and skate rental, include:

Star-Late Skates: Saturdays through Feb. 21, 7-10 p.m.

Sounds From the Cinema skate: Friday, Jan. 16, 7-10 p.m.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Skate: Monday. Jan. 19, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Divas of Pop: Friday, Jan. 23, 7-10 p.m.

Old Soul Skate: Friday, Jan. 30, 7-10 p.m.

Sweetheart Skate: Friday, Feb 13, 7-10 p.m.

Presidents Day Skate: Monday, Feb. 16,

11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mardi Gras Skate: Friday, Feb 20, 7-10 p.m.

Join a Skating Basics class, held from 12:30-1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18 and Feb. 8. The $10 cost includes skate rental. Then, you can show off your new skills while taking advantage of the Sweetheart Deal offered Feb. 13-15. The $20 admission includes two rink admissions, two ice skate rentals, two cups of hot chocolate and a Parker the Penguin plush.

Take a hike

Hiking is another great way to stay active outdoors during winter. This year, Dayton Hikers is currently hosting the “Every Trail Challenge” to hike trails at 19 Five Rivers MetroParks January through June. The hikes start with shorter trails, build to longer hikes and end with the third annual Twin Valley Trail challenge in June. Register online at

While hiking, especially during winter, it’s easy to identify trees. Learn more at the Winter Tree ID Workshop Saturday, Jan. 24, from 1-4 p.m. at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, 6733 Springboro Pike. The $15 cost includes a winter tree identification notebook.

Plan ahead

The winter chill can make us a bit indoorsy at times — meaning winter is a great time to plan for warmer months. It’s the best season to plan for your garden and landscape. Two programs will help: Landscaping Fundamentals on Saturday, Jan. 17, and Basic Landscaping Plants on Saturday, Jan. 24. Both will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the classroom at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave.

Learn about a key part of gardening during a series of Compost Kitchen programs. All sessions are held Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. in the Zoringer Education Center at Cox Arboretum MetroPark, 6733 Springboro Pike. Required registration can be completed by calling 937.275.PARK or online at, where you’ll also find a complete list of programs and events.

Winter also can be a great time to plan your next big outdoor adventure. Plus, who can’t use a hearty dose of inspiration during winter? The Adventure Speaker Series is sure to provide just that. Hear tales of paddling, cycling, climbing and backpacking adventures from places near and far. The Adventure Speaker Series is a partnership between Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. These free talks are held from 7- 8 p.m.

Winter Climbing in Scotland’s Cairngorms — Jan. 29, Wright State University Student Union:

The British Mountaineering Council hosts an International Climbers’ Meet in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland every two years. In 2012, the American Alpine Club chose Scott Fife to represent the United States at this event, where he spent a week with climbers from 26 other nations. A retired educator, Fife enjoys numerous outdoor sports, including hiking, camping, cycling and skiing. A homegrown mountaineer for 40 years, he has climbed on rock, ice and snow.

Fear Is Not an Option: Embracing the Journey, the Adventure & the Passion of the Trail — Feb. 3, Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark:

Yvonne Entingh has backpacked more than 6,000 miles, mainly solo. She will share her experiences hiking many of America’s long trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, and share hiking tips essential to any long-distance backpacking trip. Yes, that includes the type of trip Cheryl Strayed took as depicted in “Wild.” Entingh started backpacking later in life after raising three daughters. In 2007, she enrolled in a beginning backpacking class at Five Rivers MetroParks and has been on numerous trips since. She has backpacked in more than 18 states, and is a backpacking guide for Outdoor Adventure Connection.

AXUS: Across the United States, Cycling for a Cause — Feb. 10, Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark:

In summer 2014, Ian Kallay planned to cycle 3,207 miles across the United States, passing through nine states in 37 days — all while raising money and awareness to combat human trafficking. He conquered 35 mph headwinds, 110-degree heat and 10,000-foot mountains. Kallay’s will was truly tested a mere 87 miles from the finish when an accident fractured his hand. Unable to ride, he ran the rest of the way.

40 Adventures in My 40th Year — Feb. 19, Wright State University Student Union:

For Tom Helbig, turning 40 was a cause for celebration. He challenged himself to complete 40 different adventures of 40 miles or more with 40 different people. His adventures included kayaking, tandem bicycling, stand-up paddleboarding, inline skating, rope swinging, river snorkeling and more. Share Helbig’s stories of inspiration, struggles and laughter along the way. Helbig is the owner of Tomfoolery Outdoors, an outdoor event production company. He breaks out his inner 5-year-old to play in the outdoors daily and launched his 40×40 for 40 Challenge to encourage people to live active, laugh more and be inspired.

Reach DCP freelance writer Kristen Wicker at

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