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 (1) 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 (2) 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 (3) at 4.4 miles. Cross the earthen Germantown Dam (4), 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 (5) 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 (6) 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 (7) at 14.9 miles.
Next day, weave back past Germantown to Twin Creek MetroPark. At 20.5 miles, pass the Hopewell Earthworks (8) (“Local Know,” next page), and wander out onto a prairie. Tank up at the trailside spigot (9) at 21.9 miles. Hike .3 mile to the Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsites (10), or continue another 4.4 miles to the end. Pass Dogwood Pond (11) at 24.3 miles—where you may scare a great blue heron stalking his next meal—and return to the pavilion (12) at mile 26.3.
From Dayton, take OH 4 south 13.6 miles and turn south onto Eby Rd. Park in .2 mile.
Great Miami Outfitters, 80 S. Main St., Miamisburg, OH. (937) 847-8787; greatmiamioutfitters.com
Required; free. Call Five Rivers MetroParks up to four months ahead. (937) 277-4374; metroparks.org
Call (937) 277-4374 for river levels.