Geauga County Hiking Quest

think I might have just completed my most recent personal hiking challenge: walking every step of every trail in Ohio’s Geauga County. 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.

Today’s hike in the Blue Heron Preserve may actually have been illegal. A sign at the entrance from Ohio State Route 44 said, “Property Closed.” But I’ve been driving past that sign for months, waiting to see if it might reopen. And when it became clear that it was the last thing standing between me and the fulfillment of my latest quest, I parked some distance away and walked along the highway to hike those trails. So now, again, I think I’ve hiked every step of every trail in Geauga 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. A prime example of this is the Maple Highlands Trail. Many parts of it used to be railways. And it’s designed to include cyclists. Still, I count it as a trail because it self-identifies as a trail. And such a trail system still works to increase interaction between people and their natural environment. And it excludes 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)

Just like I did with my Portage County Hiking Quest, 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 key word “trail — they’re really just roads. I walked them once, and they’re fine. But they’re not all 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! Geauga County is a beautiful place. Totally worth exploring. As long as we can figure out where those trails run!

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