Thursday, September 18, 2003

Beauty and variety pack nature trails


Walk this way: Shawnee Lookout Park

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

THE WALK
[IMAGE] The end of the Miami Fort Trail offers a panoramic view of trees, hills and the Ohio River as one gazes at Kentucky.
(Tony Jones photo)
Distance: 1.4 mile Miami Fort Trail, 2 mile Little Turtle Trail and 1.3 mile Blue Jacket Trail.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Location: Just west of North Bend, off U.S. 50. Turn on Lawrenceberg Road to enter. If you see "Welcome to Indiana," you've gone too far.

Features: Visitors center with archeological information, 18-hole golf course, three nature trails and a pavilion for parties and events.

Best time of year: Year-round.

Information: www.greatparks.org

Being a west sider, I wanted to present one of the greenest jewels of the city. Shawnee Lookout Park in Miami Township has three excellent unpaved nature trails: Blue Jacket, Little Turtle and Miami Fort. All three are considered moderate walks, involving some hills, but are still enjoyable. There are also picnic tables conveniently sprinkled throughout the park, an 18-hole golf course and the Waterhole Meadow Shelter is a great place to throw a birthday party.

What's so great about this walk? While the Blue Jacket trail is the shortest at 1.3 miles and the 2-mile Little Turtle trail flirts with the golf course, Miami Fort offers the best reward. This winding trail has a diversion hook that takes you out to a breathtaking vantage point where you can see Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

What will I see? The 1.4 mile Miami Fort trail is the most secluded of the three so, unless you're a brave heart, don't do it solo. Mine was the only car in the parking lot but I abandoned my street sense of wariness, grabbed my air horn (for safety) and took off into the woods.

It takes about an hour to walk, but I think I broke a land-speed record until I figured out I was being escorted by a very friendly deer who hovered just out of sight. My FM radio and headset proved no match for the aviary serenade, giving me a natural concert from the trees. And the trees! What a beautiful canopy to protect me from the late day sun streaming through like a western compass.

Late summer thins out the flower herd, so the selection of colorful floral sprays was occasional, but worth noting along the walk.

Do I have to be in shape? No, but your shoes do. Recent rains have left some of the trails a bit soft so watch your step.

E-mail srhone@enquirer.com.




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