New hikes anywhere are rare enough. A new weekend route into the heart of an old-growth forest beside a sizable Midwestern city? Now you’re talking about a class of one: The 26.3-mile Twin Valley Trail, which accesses forest, prairies, meadows, and wetlands near Dayton, was opened in 2008.
Drive to the parking lot off Eby Road and follow the mowed path down through a cedar glen. After passing through a gate (follow the brown hiker icon to stay on track), take the wide path bordering a horse farm. Reach Sugar Street and hike alongside the road, skirting the edge of Germantown. Reenter the hardwoods with the 70-foot-wide Twin Creek on your left, and pass the Cedar Ridge Backcountry Campsite at 4.4 miles. Cross the earthen Germantown Dam, with its open viewshed. You’re likely to hear tufted titmice, chickadees, and brown creepers working in the tall shagbark hickories, American beeches, and white oaks.
Reach the Nature Center at 8.9 miles, and exit onto the quarter-mile, elevated boardwalk for the squirrel’s-eye view of the upland forest. Back on solid ground, look along the edges of the trail (April and May) for Dutchman’s-breeches, a white flower that resembles tiny pants. Reach Manning Road at 10.6 miles. In .2 mile, turn right into a forest with wild ginger edging the path and Ohio buckeye trees all around. Follow the connector trail to the Cedar Ridge Backcountry Campsite at 14.9 miles.
Next day, weave back past Germantown to Twin Creek MetroPark. At 20.5 miles, pass the Hopewell Earthworks, and wander out onto a prairie. Tank up at the trailside spigot at 21.9 miles. Hike .3 mile to the Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsites, or continue another 4.4 miles to the end. Pass Dogwood Pond at 24.3 miles—where you may scare a great blue heron stalking his next meal—and return to the pavilion at mile 26.3.
GEAR UP Great Miami Outfitters, 80 S. Main St., Miamisburg, OH. (937) 847-8787; greatmiamioutfitters.com
PERMIT Required; free. Call Five Rivers MetroParks up to four months ahead. (937) 277-4374; metroparks.org
CONDITIONS Call (937) 277-4374 for river levels.
-Mapped by Tammy York
- Distance: 42.3
Location: 39.605651, -84.362394
From overnight parking area, hike east. Pass overlook/pavilion on the left.
Location: 39.606384, -84.356219
Turn left, heading north-northwest. Hint: follow the brown hiker icon to stay on track.
Location: 39.616517, -84.384021
The trail passes through Kercher Park.
Location: 39.630434, -84.390234
Turn left on outbound route.
Location: 39.639645, -84.403511
Turn left to begin a clockwise loop.
Location: 39.63759, -84.414722
As you skirt the edge of Germantown, reach a river overlook.
Location: 39.642942, -84.423724
At mile 8.9. reach the Nature Center and exit onto the elevated boardwalk. From here, you'll have a view of the upland forest.
Location: 39.648851, -84.426861
Arrive at a small pond.
Location: 39.657439, -84.428633
Reach Manning Road and take a right. Continue east for .2 mile.
Location: 39.657503, -84.422668
Leave the road and hang a right to follow the connector trail south.
Location: 39.639648, -84.403528
Location: 39.630448, -84.390242
Turn left to access campsite.
Location: 39.630046, -84.3897
Set up camp at the Cedar Ridge Backcountry Campsite. Next Day: hike back past Germantown toward Twin Creek MetroPark.
Location: 39.606428, -84.356246
Continue straight to follow trail.
Location: 39.605874, -84.355683
View of Twin Creek
Location: 39.604969, -84.354969
Location: 39.590204, -84.353747
Take a right to hike north.
Location: 39.591647, -84.353277
At mile 20.5, turn left and pass Hopewell Earthworks - these low, wavy earthen berms will be visible on your right.
Location: 39.585368, -84.355813
Tank up at this trailside spigot at mile 21.9.
Location: 39.583039, -84.354902
Go straight here for clockwise loop.
Location: 39.583102, -84.352504
Reach the Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsite, and pitch a tent if you want to finish the remaining 4.4 miles in the morning.
Location: 39.58536, -84.355801
Turn right at T-junction.
Location: 39.59021, -84.35377
Location: 39.591669, -84.35327
Continue straight and hike toward a switchback that bends the trail west.
Location: 39.597628, -84.358521
Pass Dogwood Pond on your left. Watch for great blue herons.
Location: 39.605386, -84.35527
Turn left and return to the pavilion at mile 26.3.