Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
By: Debbie Juniewicz - Contributing Writer
— 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 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.
“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.”
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 www.meetup.com/DaytonHikers/.
EVERY TRAIL METROPARK CHALLENGE SERIES
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