Dayton, Ohio – A peaceful walk along a wooded trail, the tranquil sound of a nearby stream, the rustling of leaves by nearby forest dwellers — nature can refresh, relax and reinvigorate.
Personally, professionally and academically, lives have been upended in 2020. But while closures of businesses and schools have impacted countless lives, nature has remained open.
From seemingly endless trails for hikers and cyclists to explore, to picturesque parks to find peace, the Miami Valley has an abundance of natural treasures to explore and enjoy.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Five Rivers MetroParks staff members weigh in on the local outdoor assets they are grateful for.
I am grateful for the playground and lagoons at Eastwood MetroPark. Our kids love playing there, and it’s so fun to see them explore the islands and bridges, finding the biggest sycamore leaf they can. The park is a great place to get outside and we love to see other households out on the trails, wearing face coverings that help keep us all safe.
I am grateful for finally visiting Russ Nature Reserve and Pearl’s Fen, both of which are managed by Greene County Parks and Trails. I took my 4-year-old to both locations last month and had an absolute blast. Of course I love all of Five Rivers MetroParks facilities, but our neighboring park agencies also protect beautiful landscapes and provide high-quality experiences for people of all ages. This makes me extremely grateful to be in an area where land protection and connecting kids to nature is valued so highly.
The Aullwood Garden MetroPark gardens and the peace they provide and the Cox Arboretum blue and yellow trails with the freshly fallen layer of leaves and the spring ephemeral flowers patiently waiting underneath.
Lauren Stayer Asquith
Thankful for all those conservationists who helped establish Five Rivers MetroParks and protect these spaces for us all to enjoy — their foresight and vision allow so much magic to happen.
And thankful for the parents, grandparents, teachers and friends who bring others out to the parks to hike, play and spend time in nature.
As a runner, I am thankful for all of the trail running opportunities within Five Rivers MetroParks — my favorite spots are Germantown, Twin Creek and Sugarcreek. As a father, I am thankful for the ease of access to nature our parks provide. My children love the Possum Creek Farm. They love the animals, the nature play, and exploring the creek.
Standing at Deeds Point MetroPark looking toward the city of Dayton skyline. Standing in the middle of Island MetroPark observing people walking the trail and the activity of the Stillwater and Great Miami Rivers wildlife. Taking a walk to the base of the trail at Wesleyan behind the nature center and viewing the scenic curves of the Wolf Creek as it runs through Wesleyan MetroPark.
I am thankful to be able to see the beauty of one of our largest native planted prairies on the green loop at Carriage Hill. This prairie looks amazing whether it’s green and in full bloom, or it’s golden yellow in the fall and winter.
I’m especially grateful for Germantown MetroPark and the Stillwater Conservation Area. It’s an act of worship to be near the Twin Creek or Stillwater River and listen to the water pass as I hike, sit, or lay in a hammock with a good book. I love to look up at falling leaves, swaying branches, wildlife, and watch the passing of the water. In my stillness, I get to witness the majesty of everyday happenings. I see that specific leaf fall; I see that individual kingfisher catch that unique fish. It would happen with or without me, but I get to enjoy that singular moment in time. These things remind me of my place in this world — nature is a sanctuary.
I’m grateful that many of our trails are close to our rivers, where it’s easy to step off the trail to access sand bars or gravel bars that routinely get flooded when rain swells the rivers beyond their banks. These riverside spaces are wonderful to explore — like a beach at low tide, they have shells, beautiful sand sculptures and rocks and, many times, birds and other animals or their tracks. They are fresh landscapes where you can be the first to explore, stack a few rocks and play.
I am thankful for MetroParks’ pine and cedar forests. Many of Canada’s boreal forest owls come down to MetroParks for the winter, and these forests are great places to find saw-whet and long-eared owls.