TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Metroparks Toledo takes pride in offering several miles of trails for walking, biking, and jogging… but if rest and relaxation are more your speed, they’ve got you covered there, too. “Staycations” have proven popular this year for obvious reasons, and the Metroparks have their own ways to unwind.
“The one we have here is Camping 101 at the Swan Creek gazebo,” says manager of outdoor skills Ashley Smith, gesturing to a tent with sleeping bags. “We’re doing tent camping here, and also a night hike associated with it. They’re only $150, you get all this plus instruction on how to camp — maybe for the first time ever. It’s super affordable, since you get all the gear, we’ll help you set it up, we’ll help you cook.”
It’s not just tent camping, either. Hammocks can provide a nice place to rest after a sunset kayak excursion, for example. “We’ll take [the hammocks] out to Howard Marsh where there’s no trees,” says Smith. “It’s the peak of the Perseids right now, so you’re able to watch the meteor shower while you’re drifting off to sleep!”
Some of the most recent outings are garnering rave reviews: “We just had one last weekend out at Oak Openings — that was a 3-nighter — and at the end, they cried! They were sad the trip was over since it was so good.”
The idea to introduce camping at the Metroparks came about when their annual Appalachian Trail hike had to be cancelled earlier this year. As Smith recalls: “We were heartbroken to have to cancel those trips, and we just got creative and thought ‘Where else can we take people within the Metroparks so they don’t have to travel?’ as that was the biggest concern.”
Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned veteran, the park staff puts an emphasis on privacy.
“It’s for your private group,” says Smith. “If you and your family are worried about doing this, and interacting with other people in the community… it’s okay, because staff will wear masks and stay socially distanced from you. We’re taking care of the details… these [camping trips] are engineered so you can focus on the details of making memories.”
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