Hike the Scout Trail at Oak Openings Preserve

Oak Openings Preserve Metropark , Swanton, Ohio, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Running, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

Distance: 15.5 mile loop. Duration: 4.5-5 hours. Minimal elevation gain. Secluded hiking trail. Covers almost every area of the 3700-acre park. Beautiful trees in every season. Easy, long hike.

The Scout Trail at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Swanton, Ohio is an easy hike that covers a lot of beautiful ground! I love this hike and do it several times each season (REALLY recommend the fall for the gorgeous colors!). I am constantly surprised by how few people take advantage of this trail. It is fairly well maintained (though you will definitely encounter fallen trees) and easy to follow.

Park at the Springbrook Lake parking area off of State Route 64 and cross the road. You will see the horse trail heading off into the woods on your right - you can start here and it will meet up with the Scout Trail, or head up the Wabash-Cannonball paved trail for the actual trailhead (it will be on the right a few hundred feet up). The trail is well marked with yellow blazes every few hundred feet, so if you walk for more than a few minutes without seeing one, circle back. There are also wooden mileage posts every half mile.

The first 3 miles are all forest and showcase some of the beautiful variety of trees we have in northwest Ohio. The trail is flat, packed dirt and wide enough for two people to walk or run side by side (this is a GREAT trail run as well). Going into the 4th mile, the trail opens up to a gorgeous savanna. After this, you'll see one of my favorite parts of the trail - the dead pine forest. It's brief but haunting! You'll cut through a prairie for just a bit before heading back into the woods - make sure you keep an eye out for the sign post to turn!

Around mile 5, you'll hit Evergreen Lake, which is another of my favorite areas. The trail skirts around the lake, and there is a water spot if you need to fill up (trust me, you won't want to drink from the lake). You'll run along a main road for a bit before entering the woods again - this is another spot to keep a close eye out for the sign post so you don't miss it.

The next several miles are sandy forest with some small ponds and more beautiful trees. You will hit the Wabash-Cannonball Trail again around mile 8 if you'd like to circle back to the Springbrook Lake parking area. The second half of the trail is more challenging than the first half but not as scenic.

Continue hiking through more beautiful trees (with LOTS of mosquitos if you're hiking in the summer). Around mile 12, you'll end up on an old paved road and need to watch the ground because the yellow blaze is painted on the pavement! You're going to walk along Airport Highway for a bit - not the most attractive part of the hike, but it's brief - before cutting through a few backyards on your way back into the woods.

The next section along Swan Creek is my other favorite part of the hike because it's the most challenging part - there are a few steeper inclines and it's much more rolling than the rest of the trail. By mile 14 you'll be back in dense trees and in the homestretch! Keep an eye out for the bridges that local Boy Scout groups have put in over the years.

Once you hit the Wabash-Cannonball Trail again after mile 15, you'll head back up a few hundred feet to the Springbrook Lake parking area, where there are restrooms and water fountains.

You will rarely encounter more than a handful of other hikers on this route, which is part of the reason I love it! There is a camping area at Oak Openings as well if you'd like to break the hike into multiple days.

For more information and a map of the park visit here.

Pack List

  • Trail shoes or hiking boots
  • Gaiters in the spring or with rain - it can get VERY muddy
  • Water
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
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I grew up hiking and running this trail and it's the best in NW Ohio. Beautiful forest, not many people, and an escape from the usual farmland of the area.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Rachel Miller

hiker, camper, runner, traveler, adventurer and lover of all things outside :)

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