Do you want to get away from it all to relax and unwind? How about Florida? Cozumel? Jamaica? I was thinking of a place much closer to home—the Little Miami Scenic Trail. The trail is a quiet place these days. Short days and cold temperatures have led many of its users to hibernate, awaiting the return of spring. Their loss can be your gain, but you have to know how to use the trail safely in winter. Here are some important pointers.
- Dress for conditions: Wear multiple layers, with the top layer being one you can unzip if you get too warm. Wear or carry gloves or mittens and a hat, headband or balaclava.
- Stay on two feet: Wear sturdy, non-slip footwear. Wear crampons or micro-spikes over athletic shoes for extra traction. In icy conditions, take shorter steps, keeping your weight over your feet.
- Stay in touch: Carry your cellphone so that you can summon help for yourself or others and can report your whereabouts and timing to family or friends.
- See and be seen: Carry a light to avoid tripping as dusk and darkness fall. Wear reflective clothing so that fellow trail users and cars can see you. Be especially careful when crossing roads in the dark.
- Use sound judgment: Discretion is the better part of valor. Stay home when conditions including ice or extreme wind chill make for unsafe usage. There will be other days to enjoy the trail. Note that Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which owns and manages the trail, does not clear the trail of snow or ice since doing so would suggest the trail is safe to use. Evaluate trail conditions for yourself and use the trail at your own risk.
Winter days spent on the trail can offer some unexpected surprises. Certain sights—a house tucked in the woods a trailside lake—are only visible this time of year, with trees devoid of leaves. Braving the elements, stretching your legs while breathing the cool crisp air, has its own rewards. Stay warm, stay safe and enjoy the Little Miami Scenic Trail in winter.
by Erick Wikum