Pair of hikes planned at Wooster Memorial Park

Pair of hikes planned at Wooster Memorial Park

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With 223 acres and 11.6 miles of hiking trails including 1 mile of paved trails, Wooster Memorial Park is a treasure — one of the many natural park areas set aside for the community in Wayne County.

Friends of Wooster Memorial Park — a group of volunteers — has two more hikes planned for the public this year. A full moon hike is scheduled for Saturday evening, Nov. 20 and a winter hike for Saturday morning, Dec. 4.

John Abt, chairperson of the education and public awareness committee for Friends, will lead the full moon hike. A campfire will be tended all evening with hikers invited to bring their own chairs and snacks. The event will begin at the education area of the park at 6:30 p.m. A short half-mile hike will be followed by a longer 1.3-mile trek for those interested.

Flashlights are discouraged unless the moonlight doesn’t cooperate to provide enough illumination for the walk. “We hike slowly to better enjoy the quiet of the night and to avoid tripping on tree roots,” Abt said. “We also discourage conversation so we are more able to hear nighttime sounds such as owls calling.”

The purpose of the full moon hike is not educational as are so many of the other hikes. This evening hike is an opportunity to “simply experience and enjoy the woods at night,” Abt said.

The early winter hike will meet at the Silver Road main entrance at 10 a.m. This hike will be 1.5 miles, and park volunteer Sue Arcy will lead.

Arcy explained the unpredictability of the weather and trail conditions at this time of year. “We could be walking along trails covered with dry fallen leaves or making tracks in new snow,” she said. “We will be making several rock-hopping creek crossings, so waterproof footwear would be appropriate and layering to allow for temperature fluctuations.”

Whatever the weather, Arcy reminds hikers the woods in winter provide their own unique beauty. “The stillness of a winter hike can be a peaceful and refreshing experience,” she said.

“The advantage of having a natural area to hike in is that a person can experience the natural world in all seasons,” said Shelley Shrier, president of the Friends. “In winter I enjoy the beauty of a fresh snowfall and looking out over the landscapes that are covered by foliage during other seasons.”

Shrier said a deep snowfall on the trails provides a good workout when hiking. Shrier has been walking in the park weekly for the 20 years.

Wooster Memorial Park is a treasured legacy for area residents that began with land donations by Wooster High School teacher Paul Spangler. Originally dedicated in 1964 with 254 acres, the park has grown through land acquisitions, city donations and grants to its current size of 425 acres and has been designated by the city as a permanent natural area.

The Friends group formed in 1997 and is now an Ohio nonprofit. Volunteers work with the city in a variety of ways. They are dedicated to research, education, preservation, maintenance and promotion of the park. They are always in need of volunteers and financial support. Reach out via the website or Facebook page for further information and to make a donation. Checks also may be mailed to Friends of Wooster Memorial Park, P.O. Box 1776, Wooster, OH 44691.

Where to check if the weather looks iffy prior to a scheduled hike? “We’ve not canceled a hike,” Abt said.

He said even in the rain, dedicated hikers have come out and enjoyed the experience. He said in the unlikely event of a cancellation due to severe weather, it would likely be posted on Facebook.

There are several areas to park to access the trails. Throughout the week, parking is available at the main lot at the intersection of Jefferson and Silver roads and at Kenwood Acres, just east of the intersection. On weekends the Education Area parking is open, further west on Silver Road.

All hikers are reminded Wooster Memorial Park is covered under a conservation easement, which limits development. “Please do not pick flowers, mushrooms, et cetera,” Abt said. “Please stay on marked and named trails to prevent the development of crisscross trails that become confusing to other hikers and intrude on more pristine areas.”

Anyone on the trails is encouraged to pick up trash. The area remains nearly litter free due to conscientious hikers.

Leashed, well-behaved dogs are welcome on the park grounds as long as they bring a human who is dedicated to cleaning up after them.

Wooster Memorial Park is located at 5197 Silver Road in Wooster at the intersection of Jefferson and Silver roads. For more information on the walks, go to www.friendsofwmp.com/park-calendar.