OHIO Hike your way to happiness

Walkers can reduce stress on tours of woodlands and villages.
Take a hike and discover the architectural and natural beauty in our corner of the Buckeye state.
Two Ohio hiking guides feature trails within a two-hour drive of Youngstown that include tours through urban neighborhoods, historical villages and national and regional parks.
"Cleveland on Foot" provides guidance for 50 walks and hikes in the Northeast Ohio area. The first edition, written by Patience Cameron Hoskins, provides a detailed guide with directions, maps, historical, geological, architectural and cultural highlights as well as a rating of length and difficulty.
"Why walk?" Hoskins asks in the introduction to her book. "There is value in taking to the woodland trails or even to the neighborhood sidewalks to get away from a frenetic modern lifestyle. Hikers have learned to love the peacefulness and rhythm of walking and hiking. We appreciate the benefits of physical exercise and the mental relaxation that ensues from participating in this sport."
"I have always liked to walk," she explained in a recent telephone interview. "My father and grandmother were walkers."
Hoskins said she began seriously walking after graduate school. "It was a stress reducer. You transfer a load from your head to your feet," she said. "Stress disappears when you are out hiking. You notice birds, trees and flowers."
Favorite sites: In 1996, Hoskins hiked through the Cleveland Metroparks covering seven counties and picked 33 of her favorite sites for her book. She said she worked with each county park director to make sure trails were open and suitable. The first chapters feature easy urban and suburban walks as well as trail hikes. Other chapters follow with moderate and strenuous trails.
Each location includes information on distance, walking time, a description of the walk, directions to the trail head and availability of parking and restrooms.
For example, a walk through University Circle in Cleveland covers five miles. Hoskins allows three hours to walk and explore the Museum of Art, through the Fine Arts Garden, past the Gothic Revival Epworth Euclid United Methodist Church, past Temple Tiferith Israel to the Cleveland Museum of National History. The walk continues to the Western Reserve Historical Society and Severance Hall.
The Punderson State Park trail around Stump Lake takes hikers over 4.2 miles of rolling terrain past three lakes. She suggests starting near the Lodge at Punderson and walking along the beach of Punderson Lake past the boat launch. Continuing past Emerald Lake, the trail circles around Stump Lake and winds back around the first lake to the point of entry.
Working on update: Akron residents Robert and Peggy Bobel are working on an updated version of Cameron's book. The new version adds routes that didn't exist in 1996 and deletes hikes that are adequately covered in other books. Two new village hikes include Medina and Kent.
Peggy is executive director of the Cuyahoga Valley Association, a nonprofit citizen support group for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is between Akron and Cleveland. Robert is a civil engineer for the park.
"We have a personal love of hiking and want to introduce people to lesser used trails," Peggy explained in an interview. The couple is among the founders of Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council, an all-volunteer group that builds and maintains trails in the park.
She applauded the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System that saved "pretty significant chunks of land." The Buckeye Trail, which runs throughout the entire state, connects pristine natural areas, she added. "When you start walking, you realize the land is quite intact ecology and very wild."
The Bobels have walked these routes and worked with local historical society experts for the guide. Peggy said picking a favorite "is like choosing amongst your children. Our hearts are deep in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But every county has surprises, little niches of beauty.
"I thought I knew a lot about the area," she added, explaining that she has discovered new territory while working on the book. "True wilderness still exists if you venture off the interstates."
Another guide: Another guide, "50 Hikes in Ohio," by Ralph Ramey, goes beyond the northeast corner to suggest day hikes and backpacking trips. Ramey is the retired chief of the Division of Natural areas and Preserves with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He is also the author of Walks and Rambles in Southwestern Ohio.
Ramey provides topographical maps as well as distance, hiking time, maximum elevation, and vertical rise. Black and white photos give potential hikers a preview of sights along the trails.
Close to the Mahoning Valley, Ramey describes a nearly five-mile hike at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve. The 442-acre area is northeast of Garrettsville in Portage County. The area is known as one of the largest intact tracts of mature woodland in the area and is home to birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians infrequently seen in more intensely developed parks, he wrote. There are more than 100 species of plants on the preserve.

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