Dayton, OH: Twin Valley Trail

Ramble along a wide river to quiet, old-growth hollows.
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Ramble along a wide river to quiet, old-growth hollows.

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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 42.3

Waypoints

TWN001

Location: 39.605651, -84.362394

From overnight parking area, hike east. Pass overlook/pavilion on the left.

TWN002

Location: 39.606384, -84.356219

Turn left, heading north-northwest. Hint: follow the brown hiker icon to stay on track.

TWN003

Location: 39.616517, -84.384021

The trail passes through Kercher Park.

TWN004

Location: 39.630434, -84.390234

Turn left on outbound route.

TWN005

Location: 39.639645, -84.403511

Turn left to begin a clockwise loop.

TWN006

Location: 39.63759, -84.414722

As you skirt the edge of Germantown, reach a river overlook.

TWN007

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.

TWN008

Location: 39.648851, -84.426861

Arrive at a small pond.

TWN009

Location: 39.657439, -84.428633

Reach Manning Road and take a right. Continue east for .2 mile.

TWN010

Location: 39.657503, -84.422668

Leave the road and hang a right to follow the connector trail south.

TWN011

Location: 39.639648, -84.403528

Turn left.

TWN012

Location: 39.630448, -84.390242

Turn left to access campsite.

TWN013

Location: 39.630046, -84.3897

Set up camp at the Cedar Ridge Backcountry Campsite. Next Day: hike back past Germantown toward Twin Creek MetroPark.

TWN014

Location: 39.606428, -84.356246

Continue straight to follow trail.

TWN015

Location: 39.605874, -84.355683

View of Twin Creek

TWN016

Location: 39.604969, -84.354969

Bear left.

TWN017

Location: 39.590204, -84.353747

Take a right to hike north.

TWN018

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.

TWN019

Location: 39.585368, -84.355813

Tank up at this trailside spigot at mile 21.9.

TWN020

Location: 39.583039, -84.354902

Go straight here for clockwise loop.

TWN021

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.

TWN022

Location: 39.58536, -84.355801

Turn right at T-junction.

TWN023

Location: 39.59021, -84.35377

Turn left.

TWN024

Location: 39.591669, -84.35327

Continue straight and hike toward a switchback that bends the trail west.

TWN025

Location: 39.597628, -84.358521

Pass Dogwood Pond on your left. Watch for great blue herons.

TWN026

Location: 39.605386, -84.35527

Turn left and return to the pavilion at mile 26.3.