Cooler temperatures and shorter days mean a few extra considerations before hitting the trails.
“You definitely want to think about being in layers, and since it gets darker earlier, taking a headlamp is a good idea if you’re heading out later in the day,” Hart said. “And the main thing is to always let some people know where you’re going.”
Ready to lace up your hiking boots but not sure where to go? MetroParks staff and members of the Dayton Hikers offer their thoughts on some of their favorite places to enjoy the fall colors.
Germantown Metropolitan Park7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown (main entrance)
Part of the Twin Valley Conservation Corridor, the Germantown MetroPark is a favorite fall destination for many hikers.
“My favorite is Germantown MetroPark because the density of the woods creates draped canopies that look like a warm hug,” said Chelsea Raterman, Five Rivers MetroParks Outdoor Recreation Specialist. “I imagine it’s like diving into a cup of apple cider.”
Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Derrick Keating feels the same way about the park located about 20 minutes from Dayton.
“My favorite trail to hike in the fall is the Orange Trail at Germantown MetroPark,” Keating said. “It’s the one I use to go back and forth, and it’s long enough to give me some distinct and easily recognizable options for where to turn around and back depending on how much time I have. I like to go fall Sundays before NFL games start and take a cool morning hike before heading home to settle in and rest.
More info: www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/germantown/
Twin Creek Metropolitan Park9688 Eby Road, Germantown (overhead view)
With mature forests and breathtaking ravines, the magnificent views are plentiful at Twin Creek MetroPark. It’s a favorite fall hotspot for MetroParks outdoor recreation event specialist Angela Moore.
“Twin Creek MetroPark is my favorite because of the view of the fall foliage as you descend from the high-rise parking lot,” Moore said. “Then you can continue to enjoy the trees along the wooded trails and Twin Creek.”
Hiking is not even a prerequisite to enjoy the colorful sights of the season.
“Sometimes I don’t really feel like hitting the trail for a hike to enjoy the fall colors, but I want to take them anyway – so I head to my favorite spot – the Highview Shelter area in Twin Creek MetroPark,” said outdoor recreation specialist Kelly Kingery. “It sits atop the most beautiful view in the valley, and you have such a scenic and vast expanse in front of you. If you know where to look, you can see all the way to the medlar conservation area – a seven drive miles, but probably about five miles as the crow flies – five miles from the fall colored palace in a strip of oak, maple, sycamore, beech and oh so many other trees and shrubs that catch the sun and make chlorophyll exchange. Life is so busy sometimes. Sometimes it’s good to check in a little bit and sit back and enjoy doing nothing. Just be quiet. And it’s a great place to do that and connect with the natural beauty that quietly surrounds each of us, every day, if we slow down and take a moment to be still and notice.
More info: www.metroparks.org/places-to-go/twin-creek/
Sweet Arrow Reserve, 789 Little Sugarcreek Road, Bellbrook
With seven different trail loops, the largest park in the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District is a fall favorite of Andy Niekamp of the Dayton Hikers.
“Sweet Arrow Reserve in Bellbrook is the perfect place for fall colors,” Niekamp said. “Easy trails provide great viewing options. For better visualization, look for areas with a change in habitat or terrain. Watch the trees from the prairie where your view is unobstructed or hike along Little Sugar Creek. Consider observing the leaves early or late in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. When the sun is lower, it illuminates trees and leaves from a side angle, making colors more vibrant.
More information: www.bellbrooksugarcreekparks.org/parks-and-facilities/parks/sweet-arrow-reserve
John Bryan State Park, 3790 State Route 370, Yellow Springs
The breathtaking views and distinctive limestone gorges of John Bryan State Park make it a popular destination, but the park is especially important to Dayton Hikers member Brittany Kensler.
“My partner and I got married at John Bryan State Park five years ago,” Kensler said. “We enjoy a hike there every year for our anniversary, November 12th. Usually the last pretty leaves fall, covering the ground, and then we will warm up in front of one of the hearths of the shelter. I love our fall tradition.
More information: https://ohiodnr.gov/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/john-bryan-state-park. www.glenhelen.org
But John Bryan isn’t the only park in the Yellow Springs area that shines in the fall.
“Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve – all of the trails in these parks have beautiful fall colors,” said Vicki Stalbird of the Dayton Hikers. “I hiked all the parks – Pittsburgh-Cincinnati Trail and North Rim Trail in John Bryan, Lower Gorge Trail by the river in Clifton Gorge, the fire road to the pine forest in Glen Helen.”
Hike through the region – an overview of the fall colors
Rich reds, vibrant yellows and brilliant oranges, the Miami Valley offers a dazzling array this time of year as fall colors explode in all directions.
· Dull woods8199 Cole St. – “I like dull woods conservation area off the Wolf Creek Bike Trail due to mature oaks and beautiful yellow leaf maples and spice bushes,” said MetroParks Conservation Technician Megan Rude.
· Englewood Metropolitan Park, 100 E. National Road (West Park) – “You get a great view of the waterfalls as the leaves start to change color and fall,” said Lauren Lemons, Marketing and Audience Engagement Specialist at Metro Parks. “Also, the pumpkin ash and swamp forest walk is really impressive because there are so many different large tree species, which makes for great photo opportunities.”
· Reserve Morris, 3151 Lower Bellbrook Road – “Morris Reserve is a hidden gem that is never crowded,” said Stacey Goecke of the Dayton Hikers. Nearby Sugarcreek Metropolitan Park, 4178 Conference Road, is also a popular fall location. “The Osage Orange Tunnel is beautiful in the fall,” Rude said.
· Taylorsville Metropolitan Park2101 US 40 (East Park) – “I would choose Orange Trail from Taylorsville MetroPark for a somewhat challenging hike with tree-lined views of the river, which is really pretty,” said Lauren Lemons, marketing and marketing at Metro Parks. public engagement specialist.
· Caesar Creek State Park, 8570 E. State Route 73 – “Take the Caesar Creek State Park Trail from the Visitor Center to Hopewell Lodge for great views of the lake and foliage,” said Rosemary D’Aloia of the Dayton Hikers.