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Can you master this Dayton mega hiking challenge?

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Here are Dayton's top places to take a hike (video by Tabatha Wharton)

Camaraderie, calorie burning and even creativity – the Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series can provide it all.

“Hiking is a great way to clear your head, reset, refocus and find inspiration,” avid hiker Michelle Coleman said.

It was, in fact, while Michelle and her husband Brian were on a hike a few years ago that the concept of the challenge series came to life.

“We went hiking on Thanksgiving Day and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to hike every park,’ ” she said. “By the end of our three-mile hike, we had it all figured out.”

The first challenge got underway four years ago with Michelle and Brian leading the hikes. Another series was held the following year. Last year’s challenge was derailed a bit as Michelle was sidelined with a stress fracture. But she will be back on the trail for this year’s Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series, which gets underway on Sunday at Hills & Dales.

>> The best hiking trails in Dayton

The goal of The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series is to thru-hike every trail color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The goal of the series is to thru-hike every trail – color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails – in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. An occasional time conflict is not a problem as participants who miss a group hike can complete it on their own and still earn the patch.

“Year one far exceeded anyone’s expectations in terms of participation, so we upped the ante a bit and went at a little faster pace the second year,” Coleman said. “We will do the same this year.”

From a 3.5-mile excursion through Hills & Dales on Week 1 to an 18-mile trek through Germantown in early March, the distance will increase with each hike. That hasn’t been a deterrent, as close to 20 people signed up for the challenge the first day it was posted online.

>> Meet the local guy who hiked 1,400 miles across Ohio

The goal of The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series is to thru-hike every trail color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

“I think people need something to look forward to in the winter,” Coleman said.

Ben Kendrick – who completed the challenge two years ago – agrees.

“It’s great motivation, getting out and hiking with a group,” he said.

The Huber Heights hiker enjoyed the camaraderie and the variety.

“I signed up so I could check out all of the MetroParks,” Kendrick said. “I frequented quite a few of them, but others were new to me.”

>> How Metroparks has made planning your hikes a piece of cake

Kendrick’s love of hiking has grown steadily over the years and he is now a hike leader with the Dayton Hikers.

Coleman is hopeful that this series will spark that enthusiasm in other novice or experienced hikers.

“We’re very excited to be able to help keep them motivated,” she said.

For more information or to register for the hikes, visit the Dayton Hikers Meetup page at

Those who complete The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Oct. 22 2 p.m.: Hills & Dales — 3.5 miles

Nov. 5 10 a.m.: Cox Arboretum — 4 miles

Nov. 12 2 p.m.: Aullwood/Englewood South — 4.8 miles

Nov. 26 2 p.m.: Carriage Hill — 6.5 miles

Dec. 10 2 p.m.: Sugarcreek — 6.6 miles

Dec. 16 10 a.m.: Island/Deeds/RiverScape — 7 miles

Jan. 14 1 p.m.: Possum Creek — 8 miles

Jan. 21 1 p.m.: Twin Creek — 9.7 miles

Feb. 4 1 p.m.: Englewood — 10.5 miles

Feb. 11 1 p.m.: Eastwood-Huffman & back — 9+ miles

Feb. 18 10 a.m.: Taylorsville — 16 miles

March 4 10 a.m.: Germantown —18 miles

To be determined, Wesleyan and Wegerzyn

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Why now is the time to join in a Dayton cycling movement

Published: Monday, May 14, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

            National Bike Month is celebrated across the country in May. What better place to celebrate than the Miami Valley, which boasts the nation s largest paved trail network with more than 340 miles to explore and enjoy. CONTRIBUTED
National Bike Month is celebrated across the country in May. What better place to celebrate than the Miami Valley, which boasts the nation s largest paved trail network with more than 340 miles to explore and enjoy. CONTRIBUTED

A celebration of all things cycling is underway for National Bike Month.

Established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month is celebrated across the country in May. What better place to celebrate than the Miami Valley, which boasts the nation’s largest paved trail network with more than 340 miles to explore and enjoy. Dayton is also a League of American Bicyclists bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

The highlight of Bike Month, for many, is the annual National Bike to Work Day on May 18. An estimated 700 cycling enthusiasts of all ages will gather at the region’s largest National Bike Month celebration at RiverScape MetroPark for free fun and food. The morning includes music, pancakes, coffee, cycling exhibits and some friendly competition with the Team Challenge. Sinclair Community College narrowly beat out the University of Dayton in the challenge last year with 69 cyclists.

“Bike to Work Day is a celebration of human-powered transportation and healthy, active lifestyles,” said MetroParks special events coordinator Angela York. “Whether you are cycling as part of the team challenge or as an individual, everyone enjoys the camaraderie of this event and learns how biking is a healthy, safe alternative when planning your commute.”

While Bike to Work Day is the largest local event, it is far from the only event as there is a full slate of activities throughout the month designed to celebrate the many benefits of cycling.

“Cycling, rather than driving, is not only an environmentally friendly, healthy form of transportation, it’s an active way to experience the outdoors and connect with nature locally while helping protect our region’s natural heritage,” said Five Rivers MetroParks executive director Rebecca Benná.

So what are you waiting for?


May-October: Bike for Health Challenge – This MetroParks program allows riders to complete suggested self-guided biking routes on their own time or participate in monthly guided rides. Riders can download a ride log at

May 1-31: National Bike Challenge – Join a team of up to 8 riders and have fun riding and encouraging others to ride. There are points, leaderboards, and prizes. For information, visit

May 14: GO W/ THE FLOW Bike Edition – Kick off Bike to Work Week with the 7th Annual GO W/ THE FLOW Bike Week Edition yoga class with Tori Reynolds, owner of Speakeasy Yoga, and musician Ben Rivet at RiverScape MetroPark from 6-7 p.m.

May 16: Dayton Ride of Silence – Meet at the cyclist statue along the bike trail at Carillon Park for a slow-paced ride of silence of 8 miles to commemorate those lives lost while riding a bicycle. Helmets are required and wearing white and using lights are requested. Pre-ride gathering at 6:30 p.m. with 7 p.m. ride start.

May 18: National Bike to Work Day (Dayton) – Free pancake breakfast, live music, exhibits, photo booth, Team Challenge and more at RiverScape MetroPark, 237 E. Monument Ave., from 7-9 a.m. For a complete schedule of events, visit

May 18: National Bike to Work Day (Springfield) – Food, music, giveaways and a free fitness class at City Hall Plaza, 76 E. High St., Springfield from 7-8:30 a.m.

May 20: 44th Annual Huffman Spring Classic – Join the Dayton Cycling Club on one of three routes –30, 50 or 62.5 miles – from Wax Park/Payne Recreation Center in Moraine. For information, visit

May 26: Wegerzyn Bike Rodeo for Kids – Join Rangers and MVPs for a day of bicycle safety. Bring a two-wheeled bicycle, with or without training wheels, for a free bicycle course. Kids ages 3-15 receive a free properly-fitted bike helmet (while supplies last). For information or registration, visit

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Hocking Hills' new John Glenn Astronomy Park to celebrate grand opening with summer solstice party

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Staff Writer

Forty miles southeast of Columbus in the secluded and tranquil woods of the Hocking Hills State Park, a new park is opening that will have everyone’s sights on the sky this summer.

>>WHERE TO STAY: This cozy, close-to-Dayton getaway came with such breathtaking views, we didn’t want to leave

 John Glenn Astronomy Park will debut June 21 with a grand opening put on by the Friends of Hocking Hills State Park.

>>MORE: 7 ways to celebrate the summer solstice in Dayton 

Coinciding with summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the park's grand opening will kick off with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. June 21, followed by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and viewing the sunset through the summer solstice aperture in the park’s Solar Plaza.

>>RELATED: 7 of the craziest, coolest places to stay in Hocking Hills

Just after sunset, at approximately 9:06 p.m., the park's team will turn its powerful telescopes toward the moon and Jupiter, which will be high in the southern sky that night. Project champion and amateur astronomer Brad Hoehne has been tapped as the Astronomy Park’s director and will be on site during opening events, as well as for future programs.

>>FIRST REPORT: John Glenn Astronomy Park to open in Hocking Hills

The park not only allows visitors to explore the night sky in an area notably lacking light pollution, but it also offers daytime study, welcoming visitors to its Solar Plaza to study the sun, Earth and the North Celestial Pole, among other celestial features. 

>>Your 2018 Bucket List: 50 ideas for fun in Dayton 

 The 80-foot wide Solar Plaza highlights the sun’s orientation to the Earth as it changes throughout the year. The plaza is encircled by a low wall with notches that offer framed views of the sun on key days. An enclosed 540-square-foot observatory features a retractable roof that permits night sky viewing. Gathering areas, open green space and parking make the astronomy park ideal for research, star parties, special events and general daily visitation.

>>RELATED: These brand new rustic lofts are the PERFECT affordable getaway to Hocking Hills

John Glenn Astronomy Park will debut June 21 with a grand opening put on by the Friends of Hocking Hills State Park. CONTRIBUTED BY OUR NEWS PARTNERS AT WCPO

“Our star-filled skies join miles and miles of trails, dense forests, stunning rock formations and rushing waterfalls to lure visitors from around the globe,” said Hocking Hills Tourism Association Executive Director Karen Raymore in a news release. “The tourism association is thrilled to offer one more reason for travelers to visit the region, and a new way for them to experience a natural attraction that has long mesmerized all who visit us overnight.” 

>>RELATED: When exactly is the first day of summer?

Perhaps the most famous Ohioan with an eye on the cosmos, John Glenn agreed to lend his name to the park, giving it his blessing shortly before passing away on Dec. 8, 2017. The Friends of Hocking Hills State Park led fundraising and development of the park that bears Glenn’s name and will preserve his legacy for years to come with a focus on education and engaging visitors and members of the community. 

>>For the first time in 50 years, this Ohio state park has a new trail (and it’s absolutely breathtaking)

 Although park development is funded through generous donations and pledges from community members and corporate donors, Friends of Hocking Hills State Park continues to raise the funds required to endow the park in order to maintain fulfill its research and education mission. Donations may be made at

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Sneaky ways to save money on your next road trip

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 12:34 PM

The following seven tips will help you save money and avoid facing debt when you get back from your trip Look for a price-drop guarantee Sites like Groupon and CityPASS can help cut the price of popular attractions if you're visiting a major city When you book a hotel, Consumer Reports recommends bargaining for better rates The cheapest travel day is Wednesday, and you'll also save by avoiding weekend travel Sites like Priceline let you name a price you're willing to pay The cost of meals can add up quick

You hop in the car with a few friends or the family and a mere 1,000 miles later you're down $400 when you only intended to spend $150. What happened?

Probably just a few overruns on the road trip budget.

With a little effort, you'll find it's just as simple and sometimes even more pleasant to take a road trip that will save you hundreds.

»RELATED: 7 last-minute ways to save money on your next vacation

Credit Donkey shared the secret to saving money on road trips. "A big dose of planning," the consumer website said. "Okay, that might not be much of a secret, but everything from those junk food indulgences to the stomach-churning cash spent at the pump can be managed, and often minimized, with a little advance planning."

Add a few apps and some tried-and-true strategies for coping with unexpected hitches in the plan and you've got yourself a less expensive road trip. Here are some tips from Credit Donkey and other frugal travel experts:

Before you leave, these steps will save you money on your road trip.

Pick the right car: Sure, an SUV is going to offer more leg room. But it's also going to cost.

"On a 1,000-mile road trip, taking the car that gets 25 mpg instead of the one with 30 mpg will result in 20 percent savings on fuel," noted Credit Donkey. The Department of Energy provides a calculator to compare the fuel economy of any car you're considering taking. 

Prep the vehicle: Be sure to look for cracks or looseness in engine belts, since broken belts are a major cause of roadside breakdowns, according to AAA. Also check the owner's manual and make sure all tires are at the recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires, which is particularly nasty on longer trips. 

Plan your route: Don't leave all the trip planning to the GPS along the way. If you map out your route in advance, you can settle on where you'll buy gas, eat a reasonably priced lunch, possibly using a Groupo, and when you'll stop to stretch your legs. Travel and Leisure recommends the customizable AAA TripTik road-trip routers, that come with gas station locations and date-stamped fuel prices along the route.

Plan your gas buys: When you're taking a trip that runs through more than one state, you can save as much as $1 per gallon just by filling up at the right time. If you buy while you're still in Ohio instead of driving into Pennsylvania, for example, you'll save about 30 cents per gallon. Track average national gas prices and state-by-state estimations at the AAA website.

And once you hit the, here’s how to save money on the road:

Conserve fuel: There are numerous ways to save money on gas. First up, if it's the season, use the air conditioning, recommended AAA. Today's air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open. Tips from Travel & Leisure include using cruise control, driving when it's cooler outside and watching when you fill your tank.                                                                                       "If you overfill the tank, gas can slosh around and escape." You can also save money by buying discounted gift cards for gas stations at sites such as Cardpool, CardCash and Gift Card Granny, according to Kiplinger

Drive slower: Driving near the speed limit will always help with your fuel economy. It can also help you avoid speeding tickets, which are a major drag on a road trip budget. Although the cost varies by state, the average speeding ticket is $150, according to Esurance, and violations might end up increasing your insurance rates.

Use two GPS devices: This tip from Travel & Leisure is based on the idea of avoiding the traffic that can drive up fuel costs (and test tempers). Two GPS devices can vary wildly on the routes they suggest. Having two can help you avoid any snags that arise. 

Stop stopping all the time: Every time you stop, you risk expensive treat and souvenir buying. You also end up wrecking your plans for gas buying, inexpensive meals and even making it to an affordable hotel. Instead, buy all your snacks and drinks ahead of time and keep them in a cooler. Stick to your planned restaurant and gas purchase stops. And since you can't plan when someone will need to use the bathroom, use a clean bathroom finder app like Charmin's Sit or Squat.

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Get active, get inspired, get adventurous at Adventure Summit

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:46 AM

Adventure Summit

Age is just a number, and the three featured presenters at the 2018 Adventure Summit are proof.

From the youngest person to scale the Seven Summits, to the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail to a woman who decided that a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip was a priority, their stories are both inspirational and motivational.

With presentations, demonstrations and competitions, the Adventure Summit will supply information and inspiration to outdoor adventure seekers of all ages and ability levels. The biennial event – sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University – is free and open to public Feb. 9-10 at the Wright State University Student Union.

>> Restaurants that closed in Dayton in January

Jordan Romero, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


It started with a walk down his elementary school hallway and led to a record-breaking adventure of a lifetime.

“I saw a mural of the Seven Summits in my school and I thought it was really cool,” Romero said. “I did my research, planned, wrote out a list and, one day when my dad picked me up from school, I told him what I wanted to do.”

The then 9-year-old wanted to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents — Everest, Kilimanjaro and Denali, just to name a few. Dad — an ultra runner and adventure seeker in his own right — was onboard with the idea and soon became his young son’s climbing companion.

By the time he was 13, Romero had become the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. And, at 15 — before he even had a driver’s license – he was the youngest person to have reached all Seven Summits.

“It seemed overwhelming — I mean climbing Kilimanjaro as a 10-year-old,” Romero. “But I had such great support and everyone was so encouraging.”

The now 21-year author of “No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits” will share his experience on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.

Research and risk assessment are among the things that Romero — now a student at Westminster College in Utah — advises other adventure seekers to prioritize.

“You definitely want to know what you’re getting yourself into,” he said. “Start small, it takes the right mindset to accomplish something like this. You will be overwhelmed — I know I was — but remind yourself that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Whether it’s climbing or cycling or paddling, Romero encourages young people to find their passion.

“I tell kids to ‘find their Everest’ and know what their mountain is to climb.”

>> 40 things to do in Dayton when it snows

Susan Marie Conrad, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


The avid paddler now jokingly admits that it sounds a bit like a country music ballad but, at the time, Susan Marie Conrad was finding few reasons to smile.

“My dad had died, my cat died and a long-term relationship had just ended,” she said. “My life had spun off kilter and I was looking for a way to get it back on track.”

Conrad was also “pushing the big 50,” another reason to pursue a bucket-list type adventure. So she embarked on a 1,200-mile journey through the Inside Passage in an 18-foot sea kayak in the spring of 2010.

From Anacortes, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, Conrad ventured for 66 days – a full 56 days longer than her previous longest trip. It was a journey that was both physically and emotionally taxing.

“I did get into some pretty nasty weather – miserable gale force winds that were a bit more than I bargained for – and there were some moments I wanted to pack it in and go home,” Conrad said. “But, in the end, I was surprised by my own strength and courage.”

That wasn’t the only surprise.

“I knew it was going to be beautiful, but I truly didn’t expect the grandeur and magic that I encountered,” she said.

“And, setting out on the trip, I knew it was going to change me somehow but I had no idea how much. It’s just so profound how the trip helped me become a stronger, more courageous person and how incredible the healing power of nature is.”

The author of “Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage” encourages others to find opportunities for growth. And for those you decide to take on a monumental challenge – like a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip – she has some simple advice.

“Set a date, give yourself a deadline and, every day, do something toward that goal,” she said. “And start blabbing to people about it and then there’s no turning back. That’s what I did and my pride wouldn’t let me back out.”

Conrad will be the featured presenter on Saturday, Feb. 10 at noon.

>> 7 cool places to go sledding in and around Dayton

Dale Sanders, a speaker at the Adventure Summit sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


There were doubters, but Dale Sanders paid no attention to them.

“There were some so-called experts, people who told me, at my age that I didn’t have a chance,” Sanders said. “I proved them wrong.”

The 82-year-old – nicknamed “Grey Beard” – became the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail on Oct. 26, 2017. He set out on Jan. 1 and 2,190 miles later, completed his record-breaking feat. Along the way, he logged 4,625,250 steps.

Too old? Don’t even try that excuse on Sanders.

“That’s an extremely lame excuse,” he said. “If anything, the more you do, the more good it does for the body and the better you feel.”

That’s not to say, the AT hike was a picnic. Sanders endured weight loss and dealt with health issues along the way.

“I know exactly what surprised me the most, that it was as hard as it was,” Sanders said. “But I was determined to finish.”

The longtime hiker was also pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie he encountered along the way.

“The way I was accepted by the other hikers, the way they took me in as one of their own and treated me with respect and kindness was just incredible.”

Sanders – who will talk about his adventures on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. – is not one to rest on his laurels and is already pondering ideas for his next outdoor adventure. Those who want to follow him can do so at

A bouldering competition at a past Adventure Summit. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


What: The area’s premier outdoor adventure exposition

When: Friday, Feb. 9, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: Wright State University Student Union

Events: Featured presenters, educational sessions, competitions, fitness classes, club information, used gear sale beer tasting and more

More: For a complete list of events and daily schedule, visit

Cost: Free


Attendees have the opportunity to listen to the three featured presenters, in addition to over 40 other adventure presentations from local and regional speakers. Local presentations will be hosted throughout the Summit and cover the gamut of outdoor adventures, from hiking in Scotland to bicycling across the United States. The presentations will take place in the Wright State Student Union.

• Jordan Romero: Friday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.

• Susan Marie Conrad: Saturday, Feb. 10, at noon

• Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders brought to you by Tomfoolery Outdoors: Feb. 10 at 5 p.m.

The public is invited to the Summit Soiree, presented by Great Lakes Brewing Co., on Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., when guests will be able to enjoy drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres with fellow event-goers and featured speakers. Admission is $10/person and available online.

After Romero’s presentation, attendees are welcome to enjoy beverages and appetizers at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. Party with the Pros, held at the Wandering Griffin in Beavercreek.

To stay up-to-date on event activities, speakers and exhibitors visit

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