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

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fast Facts: Blue Ash Nature Park

4433 Cooper Road
Blue Ash, OH  45242 park

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Kids Will Like

  • Multiple Play Areas
  • Easy Hike
  • Picnics

Good to Know

  • Free Admission
  • Paved Parking Lot
  • Restroom Rating: B
  • Water Fountain at Restroom
  • Multiple Picnic Shelters--May be Reserved by Residents or Businesses of Blue Ash
  • Amphitheater on Site with Free Summer Concerts

This is a great little weekday loop hike if you are in the area.  Shelters can be reserved by Blue Ash residents or businesses, so summer weekends may be too crowded for the first time visitor.  There are at least three playgrounds on-site and some small picnic shelters that make this a perfect spot for a lunchtime outing.  Free weekly concerts are held on summer evenings at the amphitheater in the park.    

Concerts in the Park
Trail Map

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fast Facts: Rheinstrom Park

8105 Graves Road
Cincinnati, OH  45243

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Kids Will Like
  • Easy Paved Path
  • Meeting Neighborhood Dogs
  • Looking for Deer Tracks in the Dirt
  • Beautiful Scenery
  • Plenty of Benches for Resting

Good to Know
  • Paved Parking Lot
  • No Fees
  • Water Bowls Available for Dogs
  • No Water Fountains for Humans
  • No Restrooms
  • Stroller Friendly

This Indian Hill estate, turned nature preserve, is a nice little loop hike for kids of all ages.  The paved path, which is just under a mile long, makes it a clean and easy walk  There are some beautiful large trees on the property and some open spaces as well.  It's also a good place to get a quick work-out with your stroller.  Little evidence of the former estate and farm exists, but knowing it was a homestead at one time adds a special ambiance to the place.  

James Rheinstrom

Trail Tale: Rheinstrom Park

Sunshine!  Finally, a sunny day!  One day I took a drive around nearby Indian Hill to get the kids out of the house on a drizzly day and we came across this little nature preserve, Rheinstrom Park.  Today, I headed back with my camera because I thought it was a perfect little hike to highlight on Two Tykes.

The land for this park was donated by a long-time resident of Indian Hill, James Rheinstrom.  For more information about the origin of the park, check out the Indian Hill Historical Society page about Mr. Rheinstrom by clicking HERE.  

It's easy to miss the driveway for this park as you drive along Graves Road in Indian Hill.  Look for the short wooden poles which line the driveway and paved parking area for a clue (pictured above).  The trail begins directly off the back of the parking lot and crosses a creek. 

The trail begins

Stone Bridge Over Small Creek

Across the bridge, we encounter this sign.  The park contains a Blue Bird trail and the sign explains how to go about creating one yourself.  

And just ahead, we come to an intersection and choose to turn right.  From here the path makes one large loop around the property and ends at this same intersection.  If you go straight, you can also easily hop onto the loop about halfway through.  If you have a thirsty pet, you may find some water bowls and jugs awaiting their arrival as we did on our first visit--no water for humans though, so bring your own.

Soon into the walk, we are transported into a wild green scene.

As we round a bend, we are greeted by a grove of some enormous pine trees on the right.  Pictured below is probably only a fifth of the tree's actual height.  Just beyond the pines is someone's home, so we know we're not totally in a wild forest.

And then we see evidence of the old estate. The house and barn that used to occupy this land were removed years ago.  This gate and fence seem to be relics from the past, though I'm not sure if they were original or added at a later date.

After wandering through the dappled shade, we hit a sunny, grassy patch with some nice big trees filling up the view of the sky. There are several beautiful giants throughout the park.  [To see more photos of the trees, check my Flickr album].

Next, we walk into the dappled shade beside some newer trees.  

The ground beside the path is a little wetter in this area and Miles squeals with delight: "another puddle, Mom!" Gosh, he's a cutie!  We see a bunch of puddles which contain piles of broken twigs placed there for some reason--possibly to keep dogs from getting too wet.  There are quite a few very excited, off-leash dogs along our way.  All are friendly and seem to know their way around. 

We also find several benches on the path.  Each one sits in between two ornamental trees and look into the interior of the park.  It is an interesting juxtaposition, to see the native landscape rising up just beyond the formal sitting area.  Depending on where you place your eyes, you could be in a wild area or on someone's old estate.  It's a good place for letting the imagination roam.

And a good place for deer to roam as well!  Marshall finally spots these deer tracks in the mud after looking and looking and mistaking thousands of dog prints for deer.   

We are a little more than halfway down the path when we come to the section I mentioned earlier where you can find water bowls for dogs near the fork.  We see some dogs taking advantage of this added feature, maintained by community members, I assume.  From our spot, you'd have to cross a grassy patch to hit this part of the trail.  You could also shorten the hike by taking this path back to the main intersection.  If you have a stroller, this might be a good plan because the path ahead dips down and then climbs back up a fairly steep hill.  If you want to get your heart beating, though--continue on!

The boys decide to run ahead to the top of the hill.  This is after Marshall tripped on his sandal and stubbed his toe while trying to run down the hill.  
I'll spare you the photo of his distress.

You can check out this piece of natural sculpture as you finish the hike.  Cool.

And here we go to the end.  We turn right to head back to the parking lot.

At the edge of the lot, I snap one more photo of this idyllic scene with a rustic wooden bench crossing the creek in the distance.  

The whole trail was not quite a mile in length.  The paved path was very well maintained: smooth and without obstructions.  I appreciate the opportunity to roam a bit of the natural area in Indian Hill without feeling like I may be trespassing on someone's property.  The homes in this neighborhood are breathtaking.  The natural beauty that surrounds must be their inspiration.