“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Clear Creek Hike

One of the places for good hills in central Ohio that had been mentioned to me by several people (including random strangers) was Clear Creek Metro Park.  It has about 12 miles of trails labeled from easy to moderate to difficult.  Most of the trails are not loops, with some exceptions.

The trail map, for those interested.  Source
I wanted to focus on the difficult trails, but this was a brand new park for me, I was solo and it was about 1.5 hours just to drive there.  I needed a 4 hour training hike.  My friend Richard had a route he did in about 3 hours.  I followed his route and tacked on the Lake Trail loop and a bit of the Creekside Meadows trail at the end because I "wanted to see something pretty even if the trail is easy."
After the first big uphills, sweat is already flowing!
My route started with the Cemetery Ridge Trail.  The backside of the park map describes this route as moderate to difficult and says "Climbs about 700 feet through a woodland and connects to the Chestnut and Fern trails at the end.
I think it says that I'm mountain training that I got all excited about the "steep rugged terrain" signs.
What it should have said:  Climbs a tough 700 hundred feet all in the first 700 feet of the trail, then meanders along a service road looking thing along a pipeline that is mind-numbingly boring until connecting with the Chestnut and Fern trails at the end.  On the way in to the park, I thought I was lost as I kept seeing the following sights...
Such pretty yellow scenery!
Did I make a wrong turn?
All of those pictures were actually taken on the way back to the finish (i.e. after 3 hours of hiking and after my audio book ran out and when I was looking for anything to make the hike more interesting).

I have to admit, the scenic pipeline trail feature as part of "Ohio's largest Nature Preserve" was rather disappointing.  However, from a training standpoint, that hellacious first climb was probably worth every step. There was also a section thrown a mown meadow where the entire trail was at a diagonal step.  Unfortunately, you do have to do that on the mountain, so that was probably good training, even though it hurt on the way back after hiking for 3 hours with a 45 lb pack.

At the end of the Cemetery Ridge trail, I switched onto the Chestnut trail.  The park map calls this trail difficult, saying that it connects the western and eastern parts of the park trails with sandstone views and gently rolling hills.  I would say this was pretty accurate.  The part in the woods was rather pretty too.
Yay - more steep rugged signs!
At the end of the Chestnut trail, I added on the Lake Loop trail, mostly because the sign made me happy from a training perspective.  This was the first time I saw other people on the trails too!  I was going down a steep incline while they were coming up, and all I could think about was how tough that UP was going to be.
Woohoo!  more steep, and a lake to boot!
I took my first break at the lake at the end of the loop.  It was a rather pretty spot for it.  I stopped for 10 minutes, drank 16 oz of Gatorade, 8-16 oz of water, ate 6 squares of Cadbury milk chocolate with almonds chocolate bar and 6 gummy apple rings.  In hindsight, not enough calories, probably.  I also had to switch to music because my audio book ran out.
Very nice rest stop view.
After my break, I climbed away from the lake on these crazy uneven stairs - excellent training for Rainier - but really tough on my quads.  Imagine doing bench step-ups with a 45 lb pack.
This is good for me, right?
I then back-tracked the way I'd come.  Chestnut to Cemetery Ridge.  The 700 feet downhill at the end was a leg liquifier.  It did make me feel a LOT better about how I went up that on the way out though.  The pipeline section was mentally debilitating, not going to lie.  Music is not enough distraction for a pipeline walk.  My husband and I played with the map and think we have a way for me to get in the tough hill without walking the pipeline if I go back to this park.

By the time I was almost done with the pipeline section, but not yet starting the excruciating downhill, I knew I would be short of the 4 hours when I got back. Instead of coming back up that long downhill (which I considered), I decided to add on the section along the creek so that I could see something pretty after the long pipeline section.  I tacked on a portion of the Creekside Meadows Trail.  It is described as easy and flat.  It was, but I got to see the pretty creek and it was only 15 minutes anyway.
Definitely better than pipeline stakes.
When I got back to my car, I was still 3 minutes short of 4 hours, and I decided I didn't care.  In the end, I hiked 10.3 miles in 3:57:03 with a 45 lb pack.  (Of course, that weight included water, so it was probably around 42 lbs by the end).

I made use of the port-o-potty, and spurned the idea of my post hike protein bars.  I decided I deserved fast food drive-through on the way home.  Best McDonald's french fries ever.

Based on calories burned estimations, I burned somewhere around 2,700 calories during this hike.  Perhaps this explains why I couldn't stop eating all day on Monday.

Will I go back to this park?  Maybe to try the route Mark and I planned out.  I actually have a few other parks in that area that I have flagged for my longer training hikes though and may not need to return to Clear Creek again.  I think I'd like to stick with trying something new each Sunday if possible  We'll see.  I definitely need to find another audiobook before this Sunday's hike.  Any suggestions???  I need something not super cerebral so that if I miss a sentence here or there while navigating something tough, it doesn't matter.


  1. It's wonderful that you have some safe parks where a woman can still hike all on her own! Sadly I'm not so sure that I'd feel very safe doing that down here in S.A. anymore... :(

  2. I love hiking, but that sounds brutal.

  3. I hadn't heard of this before. I am impressed that you keep finding places to climb in this area - it seems so flat! Sure sounds tough!


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