Hemlock TrailBig Creek Park
Geauga Park District
Chardon, Geauga County
From Interstate 90, take the State Route 44 exit. Go south about 3 miles to Clark Road. Turn east on Clark Road and follow it for about 2 miles. Make a right onto Robinson Road. The park entrance will be about a mile up the road.
From Interstate 422 take the State Route 44 exit. Go north 14 miles to Chardon Square. Take North Street from the square about 1 mile to Woodin Road. Go east on Woodin Roadabout 1 mile to Robinson Road. Go north on Robinson, and the park entrance will be about a mile up the road. Park at the Meyer Center parking lot, or Deep Woods Picnic Area.
Length: 1 Mile
Duration: 1 hour
Type: Loop Trail-Hiking,
Accessibility: The trail is not ADA accessible.
This trail takes you through the rolling Geauga County landscape to a primeval time, far from the age of super-highways and palm pilots. Here, you will experience first hand the wonder of standing amidst the towering hemlocks high above Big Creek, transfixed by the sunlight filtering through the fine, lace-like needles of the splendid hemlock trees.
As you hike through this cool forest, chipmunks may scurry about on the forest floor, red-shouldered hawks may circle overhead, crying their shrill, erie calls. You will momentarily forget you are a modern day dweller of a civilized abode. Aboriginal yearnings will tug at your heartstrings as songbirds flitter by, perching for just a moment before fading out of sight.
This rich, moist woods has many impressive, plump plants, including this Jack-in-the-pulpit,with its green (soon to be red) un-ripe berries bending
the entire plant to the ground under their weight.
Soon, however, you will remember that you are just in a park; signs of humans abound. Well-built stairs will lead you from the bottomland stream corridor to a high ridge covered with hemlocks. As you walk up the hill above the stairs, notice the prevalence of roots visible in the soil.
These stringy tough strands of life, though placed here by the hand of god, are signs of man. Look about ten feet off the trail. Do you see roots? No.
These roots sticking out on the trail to be further trampled are a sign that the soil on the trail is compacted. Compacted soil is tough, devoid of air, and hard to grow in. The small root hairs that absorb nutrients for these great hemlocks have a hard time breathing and eating and drinking in such a stomped-on environment.
Will this kill the trees? That depends on a number of things. Lack of water, lack of nutrients, insect pathogens, and many other variables make it hard to predict whether stressed plants will live or not. These probably will. The Geauga Park District is a good steward of land, and one would imagine that such good stewards would fix this problem before it becomes harmful to the trees.
As you continue to hike the trail, take this lesson with you. Help conserve our forest resources by following some common sense rules. First, try not to hike when you know the trail is very wet. I am not suggesting that you stay inside when it is raining; walking in the rain is essential to living a full, happy life. Just use your judgement to pick trails that are well drained. If you do come to a wet portion of a trail, try not to step around wet spots in the trail-this just widens the impacts. Walk right through and wash your boots later. If we are not careful, we can love a forest to death. But, with a bit of knowledge and care, these forests will be here for generations to come.
White Oak Trail
Ruth Kennan Trail
Maple Highlands Trail