March 16th, 2019
The Friends of Metro Parks were met with bright blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and the first taste of spring for a Friends Only hike at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park. Naturalist Greg Wittman gave a quick overview of the “end of winter” hike we were about to embark on, and 32 Friends took off up the ridge.
One of the most exciting parts of a Friends of Metro Parks membership is the access to some exclusive opportunities. Chestnut Ridge is open to the public every day, but it’s not every day that there is a guided hike with a naturalist to provide insight into the history and ecology of the park, and it’s not every day that you get access to some of the parks lesser-known features.
The Friends filed down, off-trail, to an old sandstone quarry, that normally remains unnoticed from the regular trails vantage point. Greg Wittman, the Naturalist guiding our hike, called attention to the iron deposits within the sandstone, and told us about the time when he followed the path of a bobcat into the quarry, through thorns and over rocks and to eventually find more evidence that a big animal had definitely been in the area recently.
We scrambled out of the quarry, one by one, and continued up the hill to the “concrete henge” of Chestnut Ridge, where a water tower used to sit back when the land was used as an apple orchard.
Onward up the hill, we came to a clearing where the farmhouse stood, but all that was left was a brick foundation and traces of the life that was once lived there. Looking out over the fresh sprouts of what would soon be daffodils was that iconic “Chestnut Ridge” picture. Beautiful, even at the very end of winter, with the promise of spring just a few weeks away.
We ended this hike at the docks overlooking the pond, invigorated by the crisp end-of-winter air, warmed by the spring sunshine, and excited for what the Friends have in store for the rest of the year.