Although the Everett Road Covered Bridge has marked the starting point for many runs, my outing last night covered new ground.
Instead of heading to the familiar Perkins Trail or Riding Run, my route first started by climbing the long set of log stairs to the untried Furnace Run trail, a short loop up and over the back of a steep hill and down to a creek bed and back for two miles. A short distance though it was, the hill climbing made me dread completing my goal of five miles on either of the other trails nearby.
Rather than kill myself on more trails, the remaining three miles were logged by exploring the area on foot.
On the other side of the covered bridge from the parking lot is Oak Hill Road, a strange road that splits up at odd places. While driving through the area, I've noticed faded markings for the Buckeye Trail, but according to recent maps the trail has been diverted away from these grounds to the Towpath Trails, which is less than a mile east from here.
My hope was to find an offshoot from the road to old trails that I could follow. There was some distinct trails to the left of the covered bridge, but following them resulted in a dead end. My guess is these paths are used by fishermen looking for a place to cast their rods into the creek.
I returned to Oak Hill Road and began running toward Hale Farm and Village. This section of the old Buckeye Trail has been somewhere I've been considering running for quite some time. I had hoped it wasn't all on-road, but it appears that it is.
Along the road, which I've driven many times (it's a fun, twisting road), I noticed a number of overgrown driveways, some of which were blocked by parking signs. These are no doubt houses that the National Park Service purchased via eminent domain during the 1970s and 1980s when the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was first created.
It's a strange feeling to see these signs of abandonment amid such beautiful landscape. And it's odd that while some houses sit empty others are still inhabited.
The park made deals with many of the residents to purchase the property but allow the residents to remain there for the rest of their lives or until they decided to move. Others were forced to leave.
Now, the park is trying to bring farming back to the Cuyahoga Valley, after spending so many years forcing farmers who once made their living here to give up their property "for the good of all."
When I reached Hale Farm, it was about time to turn around, but first I decided to explore this historic village. There are events here throughout the year, and reenactors portray life in the 1800s. Unfortunately, Mrs. Viper and I have never visited during one of these events, despite saying that we should one of these days.
The village was quiet. I poked around the various buildings, including a church, pottery kiln, general store, barns, houses, and a small farm patch owned by Great Lakes Brewing, dubbed Pint Size Farm.
On my way back to the car, two large pelotons rode by on their fancy bikes. A group of walkers were taking in the sights. This beautiful park has a dark history, but it's a resource that I cherish.