Wading through the Valley of Bluebells in Hogback Ridge Metropolitan Park, Ohio

Toddlers laugh in the face of our best-laid plans, and Little Bird can often throw a wrench into our vision for the day. On our way to northeast Ohio, we left around 10:00 AM with the plan of arriving to our new campground around noon, eating lunch, and then having a quiet afternoon while Bird napped. Except she napped on the way there. And once she naps—whether it is a short 30 minutes or her usual hour to hour and a half—there is no way she is going to nap again. We have tried that, and we have learned. The only ones who end up wanting a nap in that scenario are me and Will.

Since we had a plan in place, and since we rarely plan an adventure on moving days, we were at a loss of what to do for an entire afternoon with a wide-awake toddler. So, we turned to our trusty friend the AllTrails app and found a park nearby with highly rated trails and took off for a hike.

Hogback Ridge Metropolitan Park is located along the Grand River, with Mill Creek running through much of the park. The park has a system of interconnected trails, so we snapped a picture of the map and planned a route. We started on the Old Emerson Road Trail then took the Hemlock Ridge Loop Trail to the Bluebell Valley Path and finished up on the Meadow Rim trail for a total of about 2.5 miles. The trails were fairly easy, though the Bluebell Valley Path had a few tricky stretches and was not as clearly marked in some places as the other trails.

To get from the Hemlock Ridge Loop Trail to the Bluebell Valley Path, we went down quite a few steps to reach the valley bottom, which leads to Mill Creek. Between the base of the ridge and the creek, we were met with beautiful blooming bluebells as far as the eye could see. It was absolutely incredible. We took a small path off the main trail to walk among them, and with the sun streaming in from the trees above, it created the most perfect scene.

While seeing these amazing flowers in full bloom was a treat, so was walking along the creek. There were small waterfalls and areas of rocky banks where we hopped off the trail and meandered along the water’s edge. The creek runs between two ridges, and in many places, we were looking at a vertical cliff face just across the creek from where we stood. Even though this was by far the most beautiful section of the park, we encountered the fewest people here, so it made it extra special since it was just us and we could take as much time as we wanted.

This park was the perfect destination for our afternoon, as the beginning and end were easy enough that Bird could hike with us and explore along the way. While she is great in the backpack, we all prefer her to expend as much energy as possible and it is so much fun watching her interact with nature.

Even though this adventure was not even on our radar 15 minutes before we set off for the trail, Bird’s nap ended up leading us to one of the more beautiful trails we have explored. We are grateful we found this gem and are continually reminded to go with the flow and be flexible with our plans, because we never know what we might stumble upon.

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