I was interested in hiking Mitchell Memorial Forest because I had not been there since I was a teen and our family had released three adolescent raccoons into the forest.
In 1975, when the local utility had removed their nest from a chimney, there were no organized wildlife rehabilitation organizations as there are today. The utility worker, who was a neighbor, asked my dad whether our large family would be interested in raising them. They were a handful but we were successful in getting them ready to return to the wild. Seeing how that was almost fifty years ago, I had no anticipation of running into Rascal, Runt, or Gertrude.
On the Wood Duck Trail the path that leaves the trailhead is wide and inviting as noted in the title photo. It was a slow descending grade in a shaded wood that consisted of hardwoods like huge Sugar Maples and Black Walnuts, mixed with some 100 foot towering White Pines.
White Pines are not native to the Ohio Valley and generally their seeds do not germinate in our soil, so these were probably remnants of some past forestation project or even possibly some previous landowner who was a hobbyist forester.
The maples were impressive and may warrant a fall color visit.
At the base of the hill the trail meets up with the loop portion, and when traversed counter-clockwise, crosses a small creek and has a slow climb up a hill. While the trail is still in woods, it is splashed with some sunlight which appears to be due to the loss of some ash trees from Emerald Ash Borer.
This allowed for a sprinkling of sun loving plants along the trail.
At about the noon position on the loop trail the path heads down a somewhat steeper grade to the creek that you had crossed previously. There are some benches along this stretch that allow for observation of birds in the trees in the valley below you. Soon along the trail there is a remnant of a pond that appears to be silted in. You see cattails and some other wetland plants, but no open water. I believe that the former body of water is what led to the “Wood Duck” Trail name.
The path runs parallel to the stream and if you slow down and are quiet you can hear the sound of small waterfalls.
As one completes the loop, the path heads up the grade to the trailhead, again through the mature Sugar Maples, White Pines, and Walnuts.
In summary, the 1 mile Wood Duck Trail is well maintained and mostly shaded. Its condition and changing grades allow for an excellent cardio workout amongst nature and we saw several people utilizing it for that purpose. As mentioned before, a visit during color change in the fall may be very rewarding.
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Photo credits to Peggy Juengling Burns.
Location – In Cleves, Ohio, 17 miles from downtown Cincinnati.
Parking – Large paved lot.
Facilities – Excellent restrooms at a nearby playground.
Trail Conditions – excellent, well maintained gravel.
Print Map Link – https://res.cloudinary.com/govimg/image/upload/v1615483891/5a5f7a6b41a5361ef1395dbc/MMF-Wood-Duck-Trail.gif
Benches – There were a couple on the loop part of the trail and they overlook a mid aged wooded valley and I anticipate would be excellent birding sites for a patient individual.
Kids – Kids 4 and older should do well here and the length should be good for them.
Dogs – Welcomed on a leash.
Suggested Paired Hikes – There are 8 miles of mountain biking trails here as well but we did not hike them. Miami Whitewater Forest is nearby and has many excellent trails.