For spring break this year my Husband took the week off to spend with me! We decided to go backpacking with our dog for the first time. We originally planned on visiting Ludington State Park. Because of the nasty Michigan weather, we decided, last minute, to go south. We ended up in Ohio.
I am constantly amazed at how hard it is to get good backpacking information. I spent hours researching the 5 Rivers Metro Park and felt like a private detective. There needs to be an easier way to get good information.
Before we began our trip I called the park office to make a reservation. It does not cost any money to stay at the primitive campgrounds but a permit is required. We were also going to leave our car overnight in a parking lot and they need a reservation or the car will be towed.
We arrived at the North end of the Germantown Metropark at about 3pm and started our journey. Even though we went 4 hours south it was a cold start. The wind was blowing and the temperature was in the mid 30’s. Once we started moving we warmed right up and stripped off layers.
The yellow route is what we did on day 1. We camped at Cedar Ridge and made our way back to our car (blue route) on day 2. We had planned on doing more, there is a whole other bottom portion to this map, however it was 28° at night and we did not sleep. Needless to say we decided to cut our trip short.
Day 1- The trails were great. We were able to cover about 2.5 miles an hour. The first few miles were almost completely in mud. It is the beginning of spring so we figured that this might happen. Willow got really muddy, but loved it all the same. The last 1.6 miles before our campsite was up & down hills. Paul neglected to drink enough water because his water hose was tangled so we slowed down a bit and took some breaks.
Willow wore her backpack like a champ. We kept her on the leash for the majority of the hike. Whenever we would stop to take a quick break or remove layers she would whine because she wanted to keep going. She was pushing us to keep moving. This trip was a test to see if Willow could be an adventure do or not. She passed with flying colors, although we do need to figure out better sleeping arrangements.
We almost missed the trail entrance to the campsite because I was trying to make a shortcut down a hill. Luckily…. Paul saw the sign! The campground was nice. We knew going into this trip that the hike-in campsites did not allow fire. It was a cold cold night. We saw some ashes from fires that previous hikers had made but since I’m a rule follower so we did not make a fire of our own.
We set up camp, ate dinner and Paul hung-up our packs. We wanted to have enough room in our 2 person tent for us and the dog. We played 4 games of UNO and Paul won every one of them! Willow was exhausted by this time and slept while Paul beat me at UNO.
Up to this point in Willow’s short life, she has NEVER slept with us. She is not allowed on the bed or the couch. This was a big night for her and she loved squeezing between our sleeping bags and giving me the occasional lick on the face.
The night was not pleasant. It was very cold and Willow kept wiggling around. We heard coyotes howling all night and they seemed to get closer and closer. Willow would wake us up every few minutes and we both don’t think we ever relay fell completely asleep.
Day 2- In the morning we woke up before light. We ate breakfast in the tent, our JETBOIL doubling as a heater. We played another game of UNO waiting for the sun to come up. (Paul beat me again)
At about 8am we started packing up the tent and got back on the trail. Because the temperature was low we decided to hike the front loop back to our car instead of exploring the south part of the park. We both agreed that we could not handle another freezing night with no sleep.
Willow was off the leash for the majority of the hike back. She did a good job at staying in-between us. We never saw any other backpackers, I guess we were the only ones crazy enough to hike in early spring.
We moved faster on day 2 and covered closer to 3 miles an hour.
We both were elated when we saw the car!
The ride home was pleasant and Willow was exhausted.
Over all the trip was fun. I would definitely go back….just maybe when it gets warmer.
5 Rivers Metro Park – Twin Valley Trail Website
I also found this PDF helpful and user friendly for planning. Helpful PDF