Without a doubt, park people are the nicest people in the world. At the recent Oktober Fest at Garlo Nature Preserve, this was demonstrated many times over.
On a cold, windy and sometimes rainy weekend, the five commissioners of the Seneca Connty Park District, together with some Friends of the Park, rolled up their sleeves and did all that was necessary to set up the festival. Tents were erected, electric lines strung, wagons, straw bales and tables and benches were collected from the other parks and 100 pounds of potato salad was made along with sauerkraut and red cabbage.
A good crowd attended in spite of the weather, and the proverbial good time was had by all.
My own encounter with an unknown benefactor made my day. I was sitting at the information table for several hours, putting up with the cold wind, when a lady asked me whether I would like to borrow her gloves. I gratefully accepted, and then she returned with two blankets from her car. What a difference that made. My most grateful thanks to her and to all the others who made the day so successful.
This is a great time to visit one of the five parks in the Seneca County system, to enjoy the fall colors as you walk the trails.
Garlo was the first preserve, and is the largest with 292 acres of woodlands and wetlands, a 37-acre shallow lake, along with three ponds and seven miles of hiking and equestrian trails. A boardwalk makes some areas wheelchair accessible from the parking lot. Garlo is on SR 19 just south of Bloomville.
Forrest Preserve is on CR 6, just east of SR 231, and features an 80-foot bluff overlooking Honey Creek. Some of the most beautiful scenery in Seneca County in contained in this area, with abundant wildlife in the trails and woods. Access to the bluff is up a metal stairway built into the hillside right beside the road, and has been a favorite place of the small boys in my family since it was constructed several years ago.
Steyer Preserve covers 141 acres with deep woodland ravines, canoe access to the Sandusky River and well-marked trails that incorporate four trail bridges. A restored cabin is available for gatherings. An 80-acre hunting area is open in season. The park entrance is on North CR 33, just east of SR 53, beside the new bridge in Fort Seneca.
Bowen Preserve near West Lodi will have its grand opening in the spring as trails are completed. Its 65 acres of open prairie include the West Lodi Church, which continues to be maintained by the West Lodi Historical Society.
Zimmerman Preserve is a plot of land off SR 18, between Genex and Autumnwood. This area has benefited from a Kellogg grant for handicapped accessibility and features raised garden beds, a well specially designed for use by the handicapped and fully accessible trails and shelters along Willow Creek.
Each parkshows its own characteristics as it fulfils the mission of SCPD, to "preserve, protect and promote the diversion of our natural resources; to educate and develop an appreciation for the unique natural, rural, historical and cultural aspects of Seneca County."
There is no better way to spend a fall afternoon than a picnic in the park. Take the family, put on your walking shoes and explore some of the trails. They all are well mapped, with distances clearly marked. Picnic tables and shelters are provided, and the scenery is beautiful.
See you at the park!
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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