As we move closer to the Summer Solstice, sunny days in the Medina County wilderness are growing longer. Of course, longer days mean more opportunity for outdoor adventure in the Medina County Park District.
“I love the parks,” says Park District Communications Coordinator John Gladden. “We have 18 open parks, preserves, or trails, and 12 of those locations include fishing opportunities.”
In most locations, a fishing license is not necessary (except in the case of Chippewa Lake, Chippewa Inlet, Hubbard Valley Park, and Lake Medina), which make the parks a beautiful backdrop for a family outting.
“We stock a variety of species,” explains Gladden. Though his tone is informative, the excitement in his voice is evident. “You may encounter channel catfish, rainbow trout, or walleye. We stock the lakes every year in April and November, so there is definitely an existing population in our park lakes and ponds. The State of Ohio recently stocked saugeye—a walleye-sauger hybrid—in Chippewa Lake, so fishers are likely to encounter a variety of species.”
Fishers may also encounter White Amur, which should be released immediately. These fish help control aquatic vegetation and play an important role in the ecosystem.
“If kids would like to know more about fish species and how fishing works,” he adds, “we offer summer programs beginning in June where our naturalists and experts will impart their knowledge to eager students. We also offer a wintertime ice-fishing course at Wolf Creek Environmental Center as well as fishing derbies around Earth Day in April.”
For outdoor adventure, Gladden recommends visiting the following parks:
“I call this lake the sparkling blue jewel of Medina County,” he states. “And it truly is. Chippewa Lake is the biggest inland natural lake in Ohio.”
The 330-acre lake was formed some 14,000 years ago when the glaciers receded at the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age. Of course, the lake’s beautiful shores have attracted humans for thousands of years, as evidenced by the artifacts left behind by early Ohioans. The lake hides a fossil record that indicates megafauna (extinct mammals like the stag-moose and short-faced bear) were also regular visitors.
The cultural significance of Chippewa Lake continues today. The lake has a varying depth of 10 to 28 feet, making it perfect for boating.
“We recently installed a public boat launch off of Westfield Landing Road,” he explained. “The ramp is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
All State of Ohio fishing laws apply at this public body of water, so fishing licenses are required for ages 16 and up.
Plum Creek Park
Located in Brunswick, this stunning park is divided into North and South shelter areas that are connected by four wooded scenic trails. Both sides contain ponds, but the pond at Plum Creek Park North is particularly spectacular.
“Part of fishing is being out and enjoying the beauty of nature,” reminds Gladden. “The pond at Plum Creek is just a beautiful location to visit any season of the year—it’s ringed by trees and the water is still, so you get a beautiful reflection of the trees and sky. It is beautiful and serene, and I definitely recommend a visit in the fall.”
The park hides Tulip Tree Trail, a 1-mile loop that offers varied terrains as you move up and down through picturesque ravines. Though one of the more challenging hikes in the Park District, it is well worth it. Gorgeous foot bridges constructed by local Eagle Scouts grace the area, and a majestic strand of yellow poplars snakes through the mature beech-maple forest.
River Styx Park
“This year, the Youth Fishing Derby took place at River Styx Park,” says Gladden. “And it was the perfect spot for it. The 3.6-acre pond hosts largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and rainbow trout. Wildlife is abundant all throughout the area. It is very scenic and family-friendly.”
Ironically, River Styx earned its name when early pioneers found that the swampland made for treacherous travel, just like the mythical river that separates our world from the underworld. The winged residents that call this area home, however, are much more heavenly than the inhabitants of the underworld.
This meandering valley makes the 83-acre park an ideal habitat for nesting neo-tropical birds from Central American rainforests. In fact, it is so important that the Smithsonian Institution has incorporated the park into its study of migrating neo-tropical bird species. So, while you’re fishing, bring a pair of binnoculars!
Inside this 408-acre park are more than 47-acres of open water that makes for great fishing.
“Our newest park to open is Killbuck Lakes in Harrisville Township, located near state Route 83 and Interstate 71. It is already proving to be a very popular fishing spot.”
The site also features a boat launch which is perfect for kayaks, canoes and small fishing boats. Only non-motorized boats and those with electric motors are permitted. Below the park is one of the largest underground aquifers in Ohio, which provides water supplies to Medina and Wayne counties.
For unique hiking trips, Gladden also recommends:
“I grew up in rural Central Ohio in farm country,” says Gladden. “You walk in Allardale and it still feels like a farm.”
Stan and Esther Allard were the third generation to work the family farm, and they were among the first Ohioans to adopt soil conservation practices. One such practice, it seems, is planting trees.
“Stan Allard planted more than 100,000 trees on the farm. I had the opportunity to meet him and when I walk there I notice that you can still kind of see his hand everywhere. The park is warm and welcoming, criss-crossed with extensive trails. It makes me think of home.”
Gladden adds that the hilly countryside of the 388-acre park makes for a great sledding opportunity in the winter.
Princess Ledges Park
“Princess Ledges is a hidden gem. One of the wonderful things about it is that it’s in the heart of Brunswick Hills Township, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life. Then you go down a side street and hike down into the park. You’re suddenly in another world, away from the traffic and busyness of the city. Birds chirp as leaves float and fall on the forest floor. And the ledges are stunning.”
The sandstone ledges for which the nature preserve is named stretch 1,100 feet across the land. Thousands of years ago, these goliaths formed the shoreline of Lake Erie. The beautiful location invokes a sense of wonder and serenity.
When visiting any of the many Medina County Park District locations, be mindful of the rules set out for each park. Take note of posted fishing bag limits, avoid littering, and remember not to disturb or remove plants and wildlife. For more information on park locations and amenities, visit MedinaCountyParks.com.