Have you ever visited a place and thought to yourself how is it possible this even exists? This is what kept running through my head when I visited the beautiful Oak Openings area for the first time. The entire time I was here I couldn’t believe that I was in the state of Ohio, let alone only two hours from my house.
Oak Openings is a preserve area that’s part of the Toledo Metroparks system and spans across 5,000 acres. The majority of the park is an oak savanna ecosystem, characterized by alternating wetlands and vegetated dunes. Not surprisingly, it was even once named one of the 200 “Last Great Places on Earth” by the Nature Conservancy.
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As someone who lives in the greater Cleveland area, this is a perfect place to take a day trip to as it’s only about an hour and forty minute drive. Plus, if you start early enough to can even make a stop in downtown Toledo before heading home. Last year my husband and I did this to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We stopped at Maumee Bay Brewing Company for food and beer samples. It was a fun little detour!
There are more than 50 trails available in the park for hikers, bikers and horse-back riders alike. My personal favorite is the Oak Openings Evergreen trail, which is roughly two miles and features the pines you often see photographed. I love taking a break during this hike and setting up my hammock in the trees and reading a book, or just laying there listening to the sound of the trees swaying back and forth.
For an outdoor photographer, this area is truly a dream. Especially if you’ve ever visited “The Spot” as it’s famously known via Instagram.* The majestic pine trees are something you have to see for yourself in person. Even if you don’t enjoy hiking, it’s worth going here just to stand among the trees, look up and soak in the scenery surrounding you.
There are also several primitive campgrounds available if you want to make a weekend trip out of it. Plan ahead to ensure you can get a reservation in time. I have not had the chance to do this yet, but the next time I have a free weekend to camp, I’m definitely going to be making my way back here!
*Always check the park’s rules and regulations before heading out for a hike and diligently follow the LNT rules to keep the parks safe for future generations to enjoy.