By Louise Ronald
Finally! Warm weather has arrived at last! Time to get outside and have some FUN!
You may not think of Wayne County, Indiana, as an outdoor recreation destination – but those in the know are happy to jump in their cars to drive from Indianapolis, Dayton, Cincinnati, even as far away as Chicago!
One Wayne County draw is the mountain biking trails at Hayes Arboretum in Richmond rated among as a Top 10 Indiana Best Trails. The 7.5 miles of trails are designated into four difficulty levels – from beginner blue to the most advanced red course.
“That has some true mountain bike obstacles for the highest level of expertise,” said Stephen Hayes Sr., president of the arboretum board.
There’s no charge to use the trails, but there are two requirements: you must wear a helmet and you must sign a waiver, which protects both the rider and the Hayes Research Foundation. Copies of the waiver are available online at www.hayesarboretum.org (click on mountain bike under the Visit menu) and at the trailhead parking lot at 191 Hayes Arboretum Road.
Because the trails are mostly dirt paths through forest, they are very weather sensitive and will be closed in case of rain. Watch the Hayes Arb Mountain Bike Trails page on Facebook to see if the trails are open.
While you are in Richmond, remember the arboretum offers walking trails, a bird viewing room, and more! Then head over to one of the Wayne County trail heads on the Cardinal Greenway, the longest rail trail in Indiana spanning 62 miles! The Greenway is paved and open to bicycles. Find more information at www.cardinalgreenways.org. Free bike rental is available at Cycling and Fitness Warehouse located at 213 N. 23rd St., Richmond. Stop in for more information!
Is biking not your thing? How about disc golf?
The Richmond parks department has two courses for what Justin Rich of the Eastern Indiana Disc Golf Association calls “the fastest growing outdoor sport.” Rich said it’s not unusual to see people come from Cincinnati or Indianapolis to try the courses at Glen Miller and Clear Creek parks. “People like to try new courses,” he said.
There’s no charge to play and the courses are open to anyone year-round.
Parks Superintendent Denise Retz says disc golf “has been a great asset” to the community. The Glen Miller course is appropriate for tournament use and the association arranges league and tournament play at the site.
“We built the absolute best disc golf course that we could,” Rich said.
The course is just one of the treasures in Richmond parks. There’s also the Dream Court at Clear Creek, one of 29 state-of-the-art basketball courts in the world. Even though you’re outside, Retz said, the court plays more like an indoor wooden floor. “People play all day and all night.”
Nearby the Dream Court is the Playground With a Purpose, a fenced facility developed for children with sensory disorders. Families come from far and wide to use the playground, Retz said, but it’s also popular locally – not just for kids with special needs, but also for grandparents of small children.
“It’s a very safe atmosphere,” said Retz. The playground has only one gate, so “you know who’s coming in and who’s leaving.”
But perhaps you’re just passing through Wayne County, stopping for a night or two.
If you’re a runner, check the Facebook page of Running Wayne County to see if there’s a group run while you’re here. Hikers might be able to hook up with the Richmond Hiking Club. Their schedule is at hikingrichmondindiana.webstarts.com. If you’re here on a Thursday, there’s a free Richmond Walking Club at 7 p.m. at the Glen Miller Park Golf Course on East Main Street. If you’ve brought along a paddle board or kayak, daily launch fees at Richmond’s Middlefork Reservoir (a “No Wave, No Wake” lake) are only $6. Or if you’ve brought a dog, the Hill’s Bark Park is right by the reservoir.
And that’s barely scratching the surface. Stroll along the historic canal in Cambridge City or explore charming parks in every Wayne County town. You can even experience nature at its best at Cope Environmental Center outside Centerville with several educational summer programs or by simply hiking through their many trails. The Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau also offers two hands-on, educational trails for families to complete, the Fossil Hunt and the Scavenger Hunt. Stop by the Old National Road Welcome Center for your pamphlet. If you’re looking for a monumental experience, consider traveling to Hoosier Hill, the highest point in Indiana.
Find more outdoor adventures at www.visitrichmond.org.
There’s a lot to do.
Let’s get outside and do it!