PoCo 2021

I think I might have just completed my personal hiking challenge for this year: walking every step of every trail in Ohio’s Portage County (a.k.a. PoCo 2021). But then again, I’ve thought that before. Maybe you can help me in my quest and fill in any trails I might be missing.

I actually thought I had completed the quest on Monday, when I finished hiking the trails of Wingfoot Lake State Park, in the southwest part of the county. But as I was preparing to write this post — I noticed some missing miles. They were on a small section of the Buckeye Trail that I’d hiked previously. Ironically, it happened to be my second-favorite segment of the Buckeye Trail back in 2019! But I hadn’t hiked it this year. So I went back today.

And while I was re-hiking that segment of the Buckeye Trail, I ran into another 3-4 miles of trails maintained by the staff at Camp Asbury! So I hiked those trails, too. And now, once again, I think I’ve hiked every step of every trail in Portage County. But I’m not sure.

Can you take a look at my map and let me know if I’m missing any trails?

My working definition for a trail is any man-made path designed to facilitate interaction between people and their natural environment. Most roads and sidewalks work differently. That is, they’re designed to connect one point of the human-made world to another point of the human-made world. Trails, however, point people to the natural world. Some trails function more like roads or sidewalks because they’re built on top of old infrastructure. Prime examples of these are the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail and the Headwaters Trail. They both used to be railways. And they’re both designed to include cyclists. Still, I count them as trails because they self-identify as trails. And they still work to increase interaction between people and their natural environment. And they exclude cars.

So here are some of the categories of parks and trails for consideration:

  • State Parks
  • State Nature Preserves
  • County Parks
  • Municipal Nature Preserves
  • Church Camps
  • College Research Stations
  • Local “Nature Centers”
  • Audubon Society Sanctuaries (for humans watching for birds)
  • Mountain Biking Trails (for humans on mountain bikes)
  • Bridle Trails (for humans on horses)
  • Snowmobile Trails (for humans on snowmobiles)

So far, I’ve decided to exclude the roadside sections of the Buckeye Trail in this quest. Even though they get the “Buckeye Trail” branding — including that word “trail — they’re really just roads. I walked them once, and they’re fine. But they’re not really designed for interaction with the natural world. Those segments of “trail” simply connect a larger loop. And I know from personal experience that the Buckeye Trail Association itself wants more trail miles and fewer road miles.

So anyway: Do you know any trails that I might be missing? Please reach out if you do! I’ve still got three and a half months left to round out the PoCo 2021 experience, if needed. Portage County is a beautiful place. Totally worth exploring. As long as we can figure out where those trails run!

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