4 Scenic hike routes perfect for soaking up the fall colors

Mary Reed, author of Hiking Ohio: A Guide to the State's Greatest Hikes, October 6, 2015

The dedication to my guide book, Hiking Ohio, reads “To all the Ohio conservationists, past and present, who have had the foresight to protect our wild places. Without them this book would not be possible.” With that in mind, here are four hikes around the Buckeye State that are an excellent way to enjoy the changing colors of the fall landscape.

Northwest Ohio: Sand Dunes Trail, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark

The 2-mile Sand Dunes Trail in this Toledo Metropark provides a truly unique Ohio hiking experience. In addition to the rare experience of walking in woodland sand dunes up to 35 feet high, you’ll find yourself in a park with the state’s highest concentration of endangered, rare, and at-risk plant and animal species. Rare species include the Karner blue butterfly. Not rare but still unusual for Ohio are lupine and prickly pear cactus. Begin the hike among oak trees and a relatively open forest floor. After hitting the junction where the trail splits to do a loop, you will come upon the open sand dune area, which is really a sight to behold. The trail begins and ends at Mallard Lake, where there is a nature center and other trailheads.

Trail contact: Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, Swanton; (419) 407-9700;