I love a good quest. I’m especially enamored with the idea of hiking “every step of every trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”
The reality of such an project, however, is complicated.
I thought I completed the project back in February of 2018. I used a red Sharpie marker to color in every trail marked on the official map published by the National Park Service. And even a bunch of other trails that were not on the official map. But after the project was finished, I continued to discover new trails. I found an app called Gaia which showed a number of connector trails and unofficial trails, in addition to the NPS trails. So I completed all of those by the end of 2018. Still, I’ve continued to encounter new trails every so often in the last couple of years. They feel like little gems, found in the dark corners of a mine.
This week I hit the jackpot. I discovered two new trails within the northwestern section of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And they were really beautiful trails!
Hemlock Creek Trail
The Hemlock Creek Trail is a new trail, opened in 2019. (So I didn’t just miss it, back in 2018). A two-lane, smoothly-paved asphalt trail cuts two miles from the center of Independence, Ohio, down to the Towpath Trail. But while the trail is new, it follows the course of a really old waterway: Hemlock Creek. In one spot, the creek falls five times in the space of a quarter mile. It’s gorgeous!
Terra Vista Nature Study Area
A little further south and east of the Towpath Trail, there’s an area called Terra Vista Nature Study Area. It was on the map, back in 2018, but it was only a dot, not a line — suggesting single site, not a trail. It’s also not contiguous with any other trails in the park. So I never really gave it a look until this week. And it was surprisingly nice. Water lilies covered a pond. Blackberry bushes crowded the trails cutting through meadows. And there was even an old cemetery from the early 1800s.
I’m glad I found these trails: mostly to enjoy God’s Creation in new, slight variations. But also to solidify my quest — this time covering “every step of every trail” in the year 2020.