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Published: Thursday, 5/8/2008

Multiple metroparks offer unique experiences

BY BOB CUNNINGHAM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A father and son try their luck at fishing in the Maumee River during an outing at Side Cut Metropark in Maumee. A father and son try their luck at fishing in the Maumee River during an outing at Side Cut Metropark in Maumee.
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You never have to travel far if you want to get away from the urban scene and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Metroparks of the Toledo Area has 10 locations where you can immerse yourself in nature, whether it s hiking the dusty trail, riding your bicycle, or just learning more about northwest Ohio s natural habitat.

Located throughout the Toledo area, each park offers a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Here is an overview of what the Metroparks system has to offer (for more information, go to metroparkstoledo.com):

• Bend View, located near Farnsworth Metropark, Waterville. Bend View could be called Best View. It s where you can see a 90-degree bend in the Maumee River. You ll need your hiking boots to get there since it s located 2.2 miles from Farnsworth on the Towpath Trail, but it will be worth it to see what many describe as the best view on the Maumee.

Unique attribute: The Towpath Trail, which was once used by mules towing boats on the Miami and Erie Canal, snakes between the Maumee River and what once was the canal for 8.3 miles from the boat launch at Farnsworth to the Providence Dam in Grand Rapids.

• Blue Creek Conservation Area, located at Waterville-Neapolis Road at Schadel Road, Whitehouse. Blue Creek is one of the Metroparks newest additions and is not yet open for daily use. It has a little bit of everything for everyone, from glacial grooves to wetlands and an oak savanna.

Unique attribute: The centerpiece of the park is a 1920s-era barn of more than 20,000 square feet that is being renovated.

• Farnsworth Metropark, located at 8505 South River Rd. (U.S. 24), Waterville. Farnsworth, which is at the end of the Towpath Trail, has a boat launch and fishing access. The park overlooks Missionary, Butler, and Indian islands, which are owned by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Unique attribute: The Interurban Bridge, which crosses the river at Farnsworth, and the Bowling Green Fault, a geological feature unique to the Great Lakes region.

Pedal boats are among the attractions at Pearson Metropark in Oregon. Pedal boats are among the attractions at Pearson Metropark in Oregon.
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• Oak Openings Preserve, located at 4139 Girdham Rd., Swanton. Oak Openings is a great spot for naturalists and photographers alike. Where else can you find wild lupine, sand cherry, and prickly pear cactus prairie growing among sand dunes and located near wetlands? Not to mention that more than 180 rare species, including the Karner blue butterflies, can be found in its habitat. It also contains more than 50 miles of trails and access to the Wabash Cannonball Trail, a 65-mile all-purpose path.

Unique attribute: It s the largest of the area Metroparks, showcasing everything that is truly unique about the Oak Openings Region, as demonstrated in the Buehner Center.

• Pearson Metropark, located at 4600 Starr Ave., Oregon. Pearson, the last remnant of the Great Black Swamp, is a prime location for birders because its location near Lake Erie makes it a favorite stop for many migrating birds.

Unique attribute: Pedal boats, which can be rented from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season ($5 per half hour for a four-passenger boat.)

• Providence Metropark, located at 13827 U.S. 24 West, opposite Grand Rapids on the Maumee River: This is where you can experience frontier life with a ride on the Miami and Erie Canal. A 45-minute trip includes passage through an original lock of the canal as well as living history characters. The canal ride operates Wednesdays through Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Check metroparkstoledo.com for times.

Unique attribute: In addition to the canal rides, there are lantern tours and an annual mill festival in July.

• Secor Metropark, located at 10001 West Central Ave., Berkey. Secor boasts Ohio s largest concentration of dogwoods. The park also contains Wolfinger Cemetery, a burial site for some of Richfield Township s earliest settlers.

Unique attribute: The National Center for Nature Photography, which displays some of the nation s best nature photographers. The center is open weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

• Side Cut Metropark, located at 1025 River Rd., Maumee. Side Cut was the area s first metropark and is named for the former side cut extension of the Miami and Erie Canal that connected the main line of the canal with the city of Maumee. The park is a favorite for walleye and bass fishermen.

Unique attribute: Side Cut has a 15-passenger tram used for group programs and weekly nature tours during the summer.

• Swan Creek Preserve, located at 4659 Airport Hwy., South Toledo. The park is named for the creek that runs through it, providing crucial feeding and resting ground for migratory birds and a nesting area for resident species.

Unique attribute: Swan Creek offers a corridor of wild vegetation, making it a great place to see deer, fox, and raccoon.

• Wildwood Preserve, located at 5100 West Central Ave., West Toledo. Wildwood is the former family estate of the Stranahan family. In the summer you can see prairie wildflowers and grasses, including Indian grasses that can reach 10 feet. There s a covered bridge, boardwalk, and many diverse trails, including access to the 6.5-mile University/Parks Trail that extends from the University of Toledo into Sylvania Township.

Unique attribute: The Manor House, which was built in 1938 as the Stranahan family home. Twenty-two rooms of the house are open for guided tours Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

This report includes information from metroparkstoledo.com.

Contact Bob Cunningham at: bcunningham@theblade.com.



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