6 Things To Do While Social Distancing in The Valley
With cautious shelter-in-place restrictions gradually lifting, many parks and outdoor attractions are open to visitors as long as they follow social distancing practices. Get out in nature, breathe fresh air, exercise, or just relax at one of these six destinations in the Mahoning Valley near Youngstown, Ohio.
East Gorge Walk and West Gorge Trail
View the fascinating geological formations along Mill Creek as you walk the breathtaking 2-mile loop of the Gorge Trail. Walking along the trail’s boardwalk, you’ll have views of Mill Creek on one side of you and a massive wall of sandstone on the other side. The West Gorge Trail takes you past the historic Lanterman’s Mill, which still grinds corn, wheat, and barley into flour using the force of the waterfall that flows in front of the mill.
Once you cross the scenic covered bridge over Mill Creek, you can access the East Gorge Trail, which heads back down to the creek bed and winds through the gorge. The trail and the mill are part of the extensive Mill Creek MetroParks system in the Mahoning Valley, and access to the trail starts at 1001 Canfield Road in Youngstown.
Lake Milton State Park
Head over to 16801 Mahoning Ave. in Lake Milton to enjoy socially distanced fishing, boating, or swimming at Lake Milton State Park. The park began in 1913 with the building of a dam on the Mahoning River. In the 1920s and 1930s, Lake Milton had a small amusement park complete with a roller coaster, skating rink, dance halls, and taverns. The park became defunct in the 1940s, and after reconstructing the old dam in 1988, the park officially became Lake Milton State Park.
Today, you can sunbathe and swim on the 600-foot beach. There are change booths and showers, and when you’re done swimming, you can enjoy your picnic lunch under one of the four shelter houses. There are two boat launch ramps and seasonal dock rentals, so it’s easy to get out on the water.
Fellows Riverside Gardens
Also part of the Mill Creek MetroParks system is the lovely and serene Fellows Riverside Gardens. The free, 12-acre public garden features a wide variety of plants, including several varieties of roses, perennial flowers, and flowering bulbs, all in a gorgeous setting with scenic vistas of the Mahoning Valley. Visit in the spring when the over 40,000 bulbs begin to flower in a rainbow of colors.
Trees and shrubs set the background for the flower displays, and you can see rhododendrons, holly plants, European beech trees, shade plants, herbs, and dwarf conifers. You can schedule a private tour to learn more about the history of the Gardens as well as get in-depth information about the plants within the gardens. Take time to enjoy lunch in the Garden Cafe, and pick up mementos in the Gardens gift shop.
A highlight of any visit to the Gardens is a stop at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center. This beautiful building houses the Mill Creek Park Museum and the Andrew and Carol Weller Gallery that features rotating exhibits throughout the year. Stop in the Maxine Antonucci Library to browse the selection of horticultural books, and walk up the Arsenal Melnick Observation Tower for breathtaking views of the gardens and of nearby Lake Glacier. You can find Fellow Riverside Gardens at 123 McKinley Ave. in Youngstown.
Boardman Park, known as the Green Oasis, lies in the heart of Boardman, Ohio, at 375 Boardman-Poland Road. The 243 acres of green space, recreational facilities, and amenities provide residents and visitors to the Mahoning Valley a chance to relax in nature, exercise along the hiking trails, or enjoy playing sports and games in a safe and responsible manner while social distancing.
Try your hand at bocce ball, since you can bring your own equipment and use the courts for free. The open-play tennis courts and pickleball courts are open to the public with no fee, as are the two sand volleyball courts. The disc golf course is open-play and free, as are the kids’ town and tots’ town playgrounds. Reserve the baseball fields for a small fee, or use them for free when not reserved. Enjoy over 4 miles of hiking and biking trails, or for a fee, take a one-hour hayride throughout the park.
Austintown Township Park
The 220-acre Austintown Township Park at 6000 Kirk Road in Austintown has miles of hiking trails where you can find some soothing solitude. As you wander the trails, you’ll go through a variety of natural habitats, including grasslands, forests, ravines, Corll Meadows, and the 1-acre Yeager Pond that offers a wildlife observation deck. The grasslands serve as nesting sites for migrating and native birds, while the forest shelters white-tailed deer, barred owls, red foxes, wild turkeys, and several species of reptiles and amphibians.
Recreational opportunities include a sand volleyball court, a disc golf course, two basketball courts, two horseshoe pits, five tennis courts, five baseball fields, four pickleball courts, a splash pad, and an 18,000 square-foot PlayQuest playground area. Bring your furry friend to play in one of the two dog parks, and in the winter, break out your cross-country skis to enjoy swishing through the miles of cross-country ski trails.
Beaver Township Nature Preserve
One of the highlights of the Beaver Township Nature Preserve at 2800 W. South Range Road in North Lima, Ohio, is the bluebird trail where you can see beautiful bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, wood thrushes, and many more species of songbirds. As you walk through the trails of the 80-acre park, keep your eyes out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, and raptors such as red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and kestrels. This small preserve offers benches to rest on, a pavilion for educational presentations, and shaded picnic areas to enjoy your meal.
Our team at Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC enjoys visiting these areas, and we hope that you’ll get out and explore them and let us know your experience of these beautiful outdoor destinations.