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Stay active in CVNP this winter

12/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Jennie Vasarhelyi

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) staff and volunteers are shown helping a visitor with snowshoes at the Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake. According to CVNP officials, staff can teach visitors how to snowshoe in just a few minutes.
Photo: Ted Toth/courtesy of the National Park Service
CVNP — Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is a park for all seasons, with programs offered throughout the year. The park is known for trails and open space, so it should be no surprise that hiking and outdoor recreation are big parts of the program schedule. Programs are fun, while deepening visitors’ appreciation for the park.

The park publishes its programs in a quarterly Schedule of Events. The winter schedule was just released with listings for December, January and February. By previewing its outdoor recreation programs, I hope to entice you to stop by Boston Store Visitor Center or visit online for your own copy.

Hiking series allow you to regularly join a park ranger to discover park trails. Visitors value the programs for the safety and socializing that comes with hiking in a group. Some appreciate the opportunity to learn the how to’s of hiking, such as how to dress for the weather and avoid challenges presented by cold weather. Perhaps the best aspect of hiking with a ranger is the opportunity to learn about the park and what can be found along the trails.

We strive to offer programs for beginning and experienced hikers. Just Getting Started Hikes are new this winter. They are low-intensity walks intended to build familiarity with hiking. They occur on the first Sunday of each month from 2 to 3 p.m. on various easy trails.

Winter Warm-Ups are longer hikes, ranging from 4 to 7 miles in length. They are offered every other Sunday morning and explore more challenging trails. Hike Aboard! combines a hike and train ride with the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The winter Hike Aboard! is a 5-mile hike on Jan. 26 on the hilly, unpaved Buckeye Trail.

Natural darkness is an important component of the places that the National Park Service protects, and we offer many programs to help you experience night. Our monthly full-moon hikes are our most popular ranger-led hikes. Human eyes can adjust easily to the amount of light provided by the moon. Without leaves on trees to block the light, winter moons can seem particularly bright. The next full moon hike will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at Oak Hill Trail. It will be a 1.5-mile hike on a flat, unpaved trail to discover the winter world around Sylvan Pond. Oak Hill Trailhead is located at 3901 Oak Hill Road, 1.3 miles south of Major Road in Peninsula.

Monthly Off the Beaten Path programs take you to lesser seen, often off-trail locations in the park. December’s program will be a 3-mile, potentially soggy adventure along the edges of the Beaver Marsh. It will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 21. Meet at the Ira Trailhead, located at 3801 Riverview Road, north of Ira Road, in Peninsula.

Other walks focus on nature discovery. The park has been designated an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society of Ohio. Bird-watching walks occur routinely and let you observe the fascinating seasonal changes in bird populations. Winter Marshlands walks occur monthly to explore what is happening at a beaver marsh during winter. Winter at the Ledges walks let you see firsthand how forces in nature created and continue to change the Ledges landscape.

Of course, snow is a main attraction for outdoor recreation in winter, and CVNP offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy it. The Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends in December, January and February, as well as daily during the holiday break from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, as long as there is at least 4 inches of snow on the ground. At the center, you can rent adult and child snowshoes and cross-country skis. Call 330-657-2752 for the current snowfall depth in CVNP.

We offer cross-country skiing programs through the Winter Sports Center. Park Ranger Paul Motts is a certified cross-country ski instructor and is adept at helping you get started or improve your skills in this sport that is growing in popularity. Snowshoeing is quicker to learn; in fact, Winter Sports Center staff can teach you when you rent snowshoes in just a few minutes.

You can get your own copy of the schedule at a park visitor center or online at www.nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/events.htm. Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park members receive a copy of the schedule mailed to their homes. For more information about park programs, call 330-657-2752. For more information about Conservancy membership, call 330-657-2909 or visit www.conservancyforcvnp.org.


Jennie Vasarhelyi is chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

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