hiking
16 days ago

This trail was a disaster. I'm nonetheless giving it two stars because it would be a very nice trail if the ODNR expended any time or effort improving it or at least properly maintaining it, and also because I wasn't able to finish and can't fairly judge that part which I didn't hike (see below.)

I recently went for a day hike on this trail, on a hot summer day, after it hadn't rained for several days. I parked in the lot just north of the park office and set out eastbound on the section that runs concurrent with the 28-mile perimeter ("backpacking") trail, counterclockwise toward the lake.

The trail immediately seemed a bit muddy and not particularly well-traveled (except by horses apparently, because there was sh*t and indentations in the trail everywhere.) It was intermittently so overgrown that it was difficult to discern where the trail even was in spots, but I made do and thought little of it at the time--these things aren't exactly unheard of.

Approximately two miles in, the trail became a literal swamp. Not just mud, but six-inch deep standing water, twenty or thirty feet on each side of the trail, covering thick layers of muck. At my own peril, I declined to turn back, figuring this had to be a passing phase and I could work my way around it. Nope. The swamp lasted a good half mile. My waterproof boots were simply no match and my feet were absolutely drenched after a few misplaced steps on seemingly solid ground put them down in the muck. I concurrently scratched the living hell out of myself on brambles while walking off the trail to avoid the mud as best I could.

Soaked and literally bloody, I finally came to a four-way intersection with a more groomed, gravel trail approximately three miles in. The problem, of course, was that there were no markers aside from spray painted arrows on trees marking the various directions I could travel, and the utterly useless trail map I picked up at the office provided no additional context concerning my location.

I eventually managed to finagle my way to a road; I also found what I'm assuming was the back end of the trail, but my good sense finally got the better of me. I decided to forgo the remaining five-ish miles-- because not being able to walk for a week simply isn't worth the low-impact workout--and guessed my way back to my car.