Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fast Facts: Stanbery Park

2221 Oxford Avenue
Cincinnati, OH  45230

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Kids Will Like
  • Playground
  • Hiking Trails
  • Tossing Stones into the Creek Bed
  • Climbing on Fallen Trees
  • Open Field for Playing Tag

Good to Know
  • No Admission Fees
  • Paved Parking Lot
  • Restroom Rating:  A
  • Stroller-friendly Paved Path
  • Trail Information
    • Trail Maps Not Available On Site, Download Here:
    • Not Stroller-Friendly
    • Semi-Rough Terrain
    • Some Steps Along the Way
    • Small Bridges Are Well-Constructed
    • Trail Follows Creek and Crosses at One Point
    • Trail is Long, but Contains Several Off-Shoots Leading Back to the Playground
Located in the heart of Mt. Washington, this park provides a respite from the hubbub of busy Beechmont Avenue.  You can easily come for the playground and a quick stroll along the paved path or head down the trail for a deep woods experience which you would never guess existed if you are normally just a passerby of the area.     

Historical Information
Mt. Washington:
General Stanbery:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trail Tale: Stanbery Park, October, 2010

Who knew?  I had no idea that a deep woods hiking experience existed just behind the multiple storefronts of the Mt. Washington business district along busy Beechmont Avenue.  I thought Stanbery Park was a good place for someone to take a lunch break--which it is--but was not prepared for a miniature Rowe Woods-like trail that kept us going for a good hour and a half.  On this crisp, early-autumn day, the boys and I met my friend Holly and her son, John Ethan to first check out the playground and then venture into the woods.  We located the trail head behind the playground after a bit of a false start.  Tip:

is NOT the trail head.  This nice little path leads you out to the street. Oops.

This, however

IS the trail head.  See the arrows, the green letter A, the word "Trail"?  Okay.  Now that we have that straight, let's see what lies ahead.

From the moment you step onto the trail, the Big Trees command your attention.  Here, the boys are trudging down the path toward a tall tree in the distance. Marshall is taking the lead, John Ethan next, and Miles bringing up the rear--it's like they've lined up according to age, a natural pecking order established from the get-go. 

And here, the fearless leader discusses the presence of tiny insects hiding in the ridges of the tree bark while the young'uns look on. C'mon, this is just too cute.

About five minutes into the hike, we encountered a set of steps that took us closer to the creek bed.  There are several sets of steps and bridges along the way that are all well-constructed and pretty easy to navigate.  Here I'm looking back at the first set:

From this point, the trail follows the creek bed most of the way and eventually crosses over, if you happen to get that far.  It's amazing how dry the creek is.  I'd love to see what it looks like when it's full of water!  

The boys don't seem to mind the dry conditions, however.  The dusty path becomes a canvas for hand-print art:

Stones tossed into the creek bed create a musical sound:

John Ethan is wondering, "What sound will this HUGE stone make?"

Besides their impressive size, the big trees also caught our attention with their root displays.  There are quite a few of these obstacle courses along the trail

and fallen trees which make good climbing structures:

After all the dirt painting, stone throwing, and tree scaling, the boys took advantage of one of the bridges for a quick rest and contemplation period:
This photo courtesy of Holly P.

Several well-constructed bridges help to keep the trail passable, but caution should be taken as there are some steep edges or drop-offs at these points.  An unsuspecting child could easily lose their balance, even on those bridges with railings.

As the pictures show, the trails are nicely maintained.  Although most trees that have fallen across the path are cut to keep it clear for hikers, we eventually came to what seemed to be the end of the trail.  Several large trees were down and the path just stopped--only the dry creek bed lay beyond the barrier. 

Under normal circumstances, when the creek contains water, this may well have been the end of our hike.  Or, perhaps stones would have made a natural path through the stream.  If you do come to this point in the hike and you (or the kids) are feeling a little tired and wondering how much further to go, I recommend turning back and taking one of the set of steps you passed along the way.  You will see a marker with the word "shelter" and arrow pointing the way, like the one in the following photo:

Marshall had the right idea in heading toward the shelter and we probably should have followed along.  But no, seeing the trail on the opposite bank, we ventured into the creek bed where the kids could add rock climbing to their list for the day.

And here begins the last leg of the trip. 

At this point, we are about 45 minutes into the hike.  Yep, should've followed the sign pointing to the parking lot.  Once we crossed the creek, the trail stayed pretty much the same.  After a quick pit-stop (and photo-op),
Marshall takes a break.
Holly and I spent the rest of the hike trying to convince the boys they didn't really need to be carried down the trail and convince ourselves that there was an actual end to this hike. After spotting a couple of deer trotting up the wooded hillside, the only wildlife we noticed during the whole hike, we finally found the light at the end of the tunnel!

We emerged from the woods to find a very welcoming bench sitting on the paved path and overlooking the meadow we had just passed through.  We saw dog walkers and more people at the playground, but we never encountered another person on the trail.  Maybe it was too chilly that day, or maybe it was just the day of the week, or maybe people are just not aware of the urban wilderness that awaits just behind the banks, restaurants, and shops of Mt. Washington.  Well, now you know!