I knew December 20th was going to be a mild temperature day so I got myself out the door to hike a bit of the trail somewhat close to me, the Belle Valley section of the Buckeye Trail
Belle Valley Ohio
Belle Valley, Ohio, population 210 from the 2016 census. Very small village, with a gas station, two gun/hunting/fishing type stores, post office, bar. Belle Valley had its start when the Cleveland and Marietta Railroad was extended to that point. The Village of Belle Valley was incorporated in 1905.
I parked at Wolf Run State Park and walked west, thru Belle Valley to Valley Road, Township Road 60. I then retraced my steps back to the park where the off road section begins.
The North Country Trail Marker “temporary corridor” doesn’t look too temporary to me.
This section of the Buckeye Trail meanders around the western shore of Wolf Run State Park Lake. I guess that is it’s name? Yep, Wolf Run Lake, I just checked.
It’s a pretty trail, non technical, but with a bit of up and down as you follow the trail around the west side of the lake.
No More out and Backs for Me
I’m pretty grumpy this first half of the hike. All I know is I’m walking to Point 23, whereupon I’m going to turn around and go back the same way I came. Yes, the trail will look different coming from the other direction..but I’m still grumpy.
I get to the Group Camp area, which is Point 24, and debate going on. If I am serious about section hiking the Buckeye Trail, then that will be a section I will have to make up on another day…so I go on.
At the turn around, I get my water bottle out of my pack, and also eat my pear. This gives me a little cheer, and I am in a better mood on the way back to my vehicle.
I hiked about ten miles, it was a good day to be outside!
Taking November 24 off as a vacation day, I decided to Opt Outside and get more of the Buckeye Trail hiked. The Buckeye Trail wanders fairly close to where I live, so it will be easier for me than some folks to hike the BT.
My hike on Black Friday.
My husband dropped me off at Point One on the Belle Valley Section. He was going to go do all his grocery shopping, then meet me at Point Five in Salt Fork State Park. (I wanted him to meet me before Point Five, as I’ve already hiked up that big hill numerous times, but oh well.)
I found it interesting that Point One to Point Two are considered “off road” because it’s a private road that the BT is blazed up. Nope, it’s still a road that I hiked on.
It was a quiet day in the country. About five cars passed me. Two loose dogs, but old boys, who didn’t leave their yards to woof at me. Sunny skies but windy.
Points 1-3 were “new to me” as I hadn’t been in this area before. Ohio is a pretty state, even in our brown stage of fall. I enjoyed my solitary walk.
I’ve walked Point 4 to 6 before, so my last two miles were familiar. As I entered Salt Fork State Park, and started up the steep hill, here came my vehicle down the hill! Perfect timing, I don’t have to hike that hill!
I am going to hike the entire Buckeye Trail. Let’s put a date on it-that turns a dream into a goal.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.”-Greg S. Reid
Let’s go with October 2020.
All the Buckeye Trail Maps
I bought ALL the Buckeye Trail section maps. I was dithering around trying to figure out what sections I would next reasonably get to-and then thought, oh just go for it, get them all!
A section hiker is just what it sounds like. I will hike the trail in little parts. These little miles will end up being big miles over the next few years. 1440 miles is many miles to cover. There are less than twenty thru hikers of the Buckeye Trail-meaning hikers who walked the entire distance in one push. I will be a section hiker.
One rainy fall morning, I opened my maps and perused sections that I knew I had covered distance on.
For my BT Section hike, I am counting all the BT miles I have covered on foot power. That would exclude car rides and bike rides*. This would include my former running career-hence why I have covered 100 100.5 miles of the Buckeye Trail already!
Mostof my miles completed from my 2009 Burning River 100 Race that I DNF’d- did not finish the race. I do remember seeing the blue blazes on many of the road miles in the Willoughby area.
Akron Section Completed
Akron Section-going over the map, I’ve completed it! Back in the day, I ran bunches on the Towpath Trail and in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
I have covered about 12 miles in the Burr Oak State Park when I ran the inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon. I have 4 miles on the Leesville Lake North and South where we have performed trail maintenance, and 7 miles on the Salt Fork section in Belle Valley. I picked up some more miles when we hiked on the last day of winter in the Seneca Lake area. There was a few miles when we worked over at Piedmont Lake also. I hiked the loop around Lake Glendenning in 2017
The Buckeye Trail went by my former house. One road to our south, then on my old road, Jones Road, up Breyenton Road. I don’t remember seeing a blue blaze on these roads. Isn’t that funny? I have jogged down my road, to the end, so I am counting that 0.5 mile as closer to my completion of the BT.
*There has been an interesting proposal about recognition of completion of the Buckeye Trail. Randall Roberts, of the Crooked River Chapter, has a proposal where one could complete the Buckeye Trail by muscle power-whether that is on foot, bike, skating, skiing. The correct terminology would probably be “I completed a circuit Trip of the Buckeye Trail” vs a person who hiked, on foot as “I completed a circuit hike of the Buckeye Trail”.
Where am I on this? Undecided. If I add my *biking* miles on the Ohio to Erie Towpath, I gain more miles. I could also bike a bunch of miles this winter on the southeast Ohio road sections of the Buckeye Trail.
How many miles have you logged on the Buckeye Trail?
I have wanting to learn more about mushrooms and how to properly identify the edible ones. I found via the Wilderness Center that there was a mushroom hunting class to be held in Northern Ohio.
It has been a dry (about drought like conditions) in Ohio for the month of October. There was one night of rain, so we were hopeful that some mushrooms would pop up.
There were about 14 hopeful mushroom hunters that showed up at West Branch State Park. We went on a two hour slow hike, finding mushrooms and having Don King identify them for us.
The following four pictures are puffballs. I did not realize the same mushroom could look so different!
It was a beautiful afternoon to spend in the woods. In Ohio, most state parks permit mushroom hunting, but it is suggested you check out your own area to hunt.
Don brought along two other varieties that we did not find today. I don’t remember what the white mushroom is:
but this is chicken of the woods. This mushroom had a bright yellow underside. Chicken of the woods has either a yellow or a white underside.
More pictures from our hunt. Note, these are not edible at all, they just came out as cool pictures.
Don also cooked up a tasting of the mushrooms on a portable grill right at the park, but we left since we still had a good drive home.
Overall, my husband and I really enjoyed our mushroom hunt by Don King. He offers more mushroom hunts and even an overnight mushroom hunting weekend.
Interested in mushroom hunting? Find a reputable hunter in your area. The internet is your friend here.You may have a mushroom society in your state. There could be mushroom hunting groups in your backyard!
Do you eat wild mushrooms? Do you have a mushroom identification book to recommend?
The Buckeye Trail is being relocated thanks to a partnership with the Wayne National Forest, private landowners and the Clean Ohio Green space Fund.
On Saturday, we had volunteers Andrew, Richard, Mark, Frank, Mark, Dan, Kim, and Bob. On Sunday, we had volunteers Andrew, Richard, Mark, Mark, Bob and Kim. We got mucho real estate done with our crew!
What We were Doing
The section of trail we were working on was fairly simple. The BT comes out of the woods, and then goes down a gravel road. The new trail section crosses the road and continues somewhat parallel to the gravel road, but up in the woods.
Some of the volunteers were experienced trail workers, some of us were fairly new to trail building. I had helped relocate a section of Buckeye Trail last October, but I didn’t really remember too much detail about the tools and what needed to be done. Andrew and Richard were very good at explaining what work needed to be done.
Before and After
There are several steps to trail building. The first step is the mapping out of the trail. That is left to the experts-in this case, Richard Lutz, the GIS Co-ordinator for the Buckeye Trail Association. I believe there is both art and science involved in trail building.
You have to take in consideration of the slope, you don’t want to exceed a certain amount of grade. You want to the trail to be fairly level, the hiker doesn’t want to walk on a cambered area for too long. You want the trail to drain water away, not pool up on the trail. Andrew pointed out that branches need to be pruned back from a trail. A hiker will go out of their way to avoid a branch-and may be stepping off the trail to do so.
Hopefully you have several volunteers that can fill out all the jobs that need to happen to create the trail.
First you clear big trees, logs, multi-flower rose. Dig out invasive shrubs like the Eastern Olive. The area might need to be brush hogged. People might need to use loppers to cut away vines and brambles. A leaf blower may be used to blow large loose debris and leaves off the area to be worked.
The next volunteers in would using the fire rakes. The fire rake is to rake all the vegetation off the area. We want to get down to dirt! You can also turn the fire rake sideways and hack away roots with the rake.
Some areas of the trail may need to be benched. A bench cut is the result of cutting a section of tread across the side of a hill. If you look at the side profile of this cut it looks like a bench, hence the name. I don’t want to write about how to build a bench trail correctly, as I would probably get it wrong, so here is a link with benching explained better.
The finishers are the volunteers who follow the benchers and rakers to you guessed it “finish” the trail. They rake any big berms of loose soil off the trail so the water won’t pool on the trail. They might remove roots and rocks. There are many different opinions on what the “finisher” should do.
What Do You get for your Effort?
Look at the finished trail!
You are Volunteers!
If you come out for a trail building event, remember you are a volunteer. You can do as much work or as little work as you want. If you need to take a break-take a break. Can’t saw a log in half? That’s okay, you don’t have to, you are a volunteer.
Not into physical labor? Well, then come walk on the new hiking trail! The trail needs foot traffic to be maintained and pack down that dirt. It’s a very pretty section of *new trail* down in the Wayne National Forest!
I had the opportunity and luck to meet up with a Buckeye Trail Thru Hiker, Mei-Ling today. She was hiking well, and I caught up with her right before the off-road section at Salt Fork State Park.
A thru hiker is a hiker who is planning on finishing an entire trail with one continous hike. This would be opposite of a hiker who might get out on the weekend and hike a section of the Buckeye Trail, and keep working on adding completed sections of trail hiked.
Mei Ling and Preston are the two Buckeye Trail Warrior Expeditions hikers for 2017. Warrior Expeditions provides veterans with everything they need to complete a long distance outdoor expedition at no cost to the veteran.
Buckeye Trail Sat Fork Section
I’ve hike this section of the Buckeye Trail. I parked at the Group Campground end and hiked in to meet Mei-Ling, who was coming from the other direction.
Oh my! This section needs some serious maintenance. I hiked this section in May. It was overgrown then-but MY it’s overgrown now.
Even though it is an off-road section, it’s no fun in its present form.
The trails needs to be mowed at least yearly to beat back the multi-flower rose.
There is one section where I believe the rose bush is getting so big you can’t mow it down.
I’d like to get back there sooner and later and see if maybe there could be an easier passage in the woods beside the trail..
It was fun to host Mei-Ling as she continues with her Buckeye Trail south. 2 of my 3 dogs really liked her visiting!
Held on the first Saturday of June, National Trails Day is a nationwide coordinated event promoted by the American Hiking Society and the trails community to connect more people to trails. All trails hold adventure and it is up to YOU to unlock the magic that can be found on a trail.
Find a New Trail
I’ve said it before, two of my favorite words are “New Trail”. This is a good day to explore a new trail. Drive to that trail head you’ve passed a million times and discover what’s beyond that little green tunnel.
Take a New Trail Partner With You
By concentrating on a single National Trails Day, it is hoped to attract new trail users. Do you have a friend who might want to go for a hike? Call them up and take them with you. It doesn’t have to be an epic climb to Machu Picchu! Go for a little walk around the local metropark!