Well, it’s been over 6 months since I had my foot operated on and it’s still not right. (Thanks, Beacon Orthopaedics!) Regardless, with a big backpacking trip (or two) coming up, I needed to start taking practice hikes to insure my equipment and I would be up to the challenge. As I’d be wearing my backpack, the thought was to hike at Twin Creek, a Five Rivers Metropark that’s about a half hour drive up I-75 from I-275 in Cincinnati.
Why Twin Creek? There’s a number of reasons. The most basic is that the trails there are part of the Twin Valley Backpacking Trail. If you’ve ever gotten strange looks when carrying a backpack at your local park, up the street, or God forbid, the treadmill at LA Fitness, you’ll understand the benefit of hiking where you could actually be backpacking. If you get strange looks at Twin Creek, it’s for some reason other than your backpack.
In addition, the trails there have some elevation changes, are well maintained, traverse a variety of habitats and are actually pretty scenic. There are a number of options with loops of various lengths from a couple miles all the way up to over 30 by taking a connector trail to Germantown Metropark. With the temperature expected to reach the 90s, I figured an 8 mile Sweatfest would be plenty to begin with.
The trails don’t have the most imaginative names (I walked the purple and orange trails) but they are well marked with color coded blazes near every intersection. Starting near Lake George at the southernmost part of the park, I hopped on the Purple Trail walking the loop clockwise towards the Orange Trail. Early on, the trail is mostly in the woods. It was obvious I was the first hiker of the day as I hit enough spider webs to feel like I was starting to create a cocoon for myself. The morning forest contained a supply of gnats and mosquitos as well. They weren’t overly troublesome as a bit of Deet sprayed on my hat was enough to keep them at bay.
Slightly larger wildlife was spotted on occasion. Squirrels, rabbits and an assortment of birds kept things interesting. The wooded sections also contained a healthy population of toads, no doubt there to reduce the insect population for me.
Once I started clockwise on the Orange Trail, a six mile loop, the path meandered between grassland and an open cedar/pine forest before heading back into the woods. Benches by a very scenic Dogwood Pond were a great place to take a quick break.
About a mile further, the trail broke out of the woods and headed up a large open hill, a bit reminiscent of one of the “balds” of the southern Appalachian Mountains. At the top of the grass covered hill was High View Picnic Shelter. I was a bit over halfway through the trek and it was lunch time. Things were working out perfectly.
There is a commanding view from the shelter in all directions. Between the shade of the structure and the breeze, the oppressive heat was kept at bay while I ate and enjoyed the sights.
Of course, the longer I sat, the closer the temperature got to 90. Soon it was time to drop off the “bald,” and head back into a low forest alongside Twin Creek.
The park’s namesake stream was running clear and cool. I wished I had brought a fishing rod. The next couple miles featured some very scenic overlooks of the water before a pretty significant climb out of the creek’s valley. A few switchbacks kept the trail from becoming too steep.
Before too long I was back at the Purple Trail. After a short detour to check out the Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsite (I did have a backpack on) it was just a short walk back to where I was parked.
According to my GPS, the trip was 8.4 miles with elevation varying from 650 to just under 900 feet above sea level. The hike took me 3 ½ hours with about 30 minutes of that spent taking breaks and eating lunch. All in all, not a bad way to start prepping for a bigger backpacking trip.
More detailed information is available at the park’s website.