Doings In Defiance: Hiking Trails

– Isaiah Ross (Defiance, OH)

It would be foolish to say college students always have something to do. Sure, you could be studying or doing homework, but what happens when these tasks are completed (or are being procrastinated)? What about the relaxation you can receive from being in the fresh air outdoors?  Something you should consider is hiking.  Even if the mere sound of physical activity makes you cringe, try it.  I will even help you out with reviewing a couple of the best hiking areas in and around Defiance.

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On the outskirts of town off of Jefferson Street is a property called Camp Lakota.  For those of you who do not know, it is the Boy Scout camp.  Founded in 1941, it has been the home of many scouts and outdoor adventurers, even Neil Armstrong and his brother back in the day.  Camp Lakota sits on 638 acres of wooded trails and rustic camping.  Coming from experience, you can spend an entire day there and not discover all the trails.  Many people utilize Lakota in the off season, from cross country runners to senior citizens and their dogs in events as diverse as campouts to weddings.  The Camp Ranger lives there on camp and always invites everyone to enjoy the grounds.  What makes Lakota the best place to hike?  For one, the wide range of scenery present throughout the camp.  There are trails, parade fields, a lake, creeks, slate beds, boat docks, a suspension bridge, and more – all encompassed by a beautiful arrangement of virtually every tree species present in deciduous forest biomes.  There are also a variety of trails to utilize.  There are stone/dirt driveways spanning the length of camp, wider footpaths to take you around the lake, and smaller deer trails that are more adventurous and take you deeper into camp.  There is not a season that goes by where the view is less than alluring.  Have fun hiking the trails, skipping slate on the creek, sitting on the docks, and reducing your stress all while getting in a little exercise.

If you feel like making a short five mile jog out of town on River Drive (County Road 424, right beside Circle K), the next best place to hike and unwind is Independence Dam State Park located just outside of Independence, Ohio.  While not as scenically diverse, there is the namesake dam, waterfront access, various picnic locations, two miles of paved drive that spans the length of the immediate park, and an additional several miles of normal trail that goes from the dam to Florida, Ohio.

Exercising and unwinding is important to remain healthy throughout your college years, and even thereafter into the rest of your life.  Hiking is a great way to accomplish both of these things, as it gets you moving while immersing you in nature.  If you need some space to think and meditate, go by yourself.  If you want to bring along a friend or two, it is a great bonding activity as well.  I cannot pen the feelings and experiences in a better way than Henry David Thoreau did when he frequently wrote about the correlation of god (whomever god is to you) and nature.  So come on, get up and go outdoors for a few hours of hiking, hanging out, and relaxing.

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