Monday, October 7, 2013

Sharon Woods

Schrock Lake
When Kenneth and I moved to Columbus in the summer of 2010, we were eager to discover everything the city has to offer - especially its parks!  The Columbus Metro Parks include seventeen different parks (with a new park, Rocky Fork, currently being developed), all with plenty of hiking trails and interesting habitats.  Kenneth set a goal for us, to visit all of the Metro Parks before he graduates from veterinary school in the spring of 2014.  We visited several parks shortly after our move, some of them for the first time during the Metro Parks extremely popular Winter Hike series (which we plan to participate in again this winter!).

Sharon Woods, however, was the last park we needed to visit.  In early September we finally made it happen!  It took three years, but we have now visited all of the Columbus Metro Parks at least once.  I really enjoyed our hike at Sharon Woods, I think we'll be back soon!

Sharon Woods is a 761 acre metro park just northeast of where Interstate 270 and Interstate 71 intersect.  The park includes hiking trails through open fields, forests and a path along Schrock Lake.  When Kenneth and I visited last month we walked the Edward S. Thomas Trail, which includes an observation deck overlooking a meadow.  In addition to hiking, visitors to the park can use picnic shelters, play in the natural play area or on playground equipment.  Children fifteen years and under and seniors sixty and older, can also go fishing in Schrock lake.

A little leafhopper on a spice bush branch.
We had beautiful weather for an afternoon walk and I was able to take a ton of photos!  We saw several groups of joggers and walkers on the one mile long Edward S. Thomas Trail; the pathway is wide and clear, it'd be perfect for an after-work run or walk!

Close up of a beech tree leaf.
We saw pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba), spice bushes (Lindera benzoin), American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia), hickory trees (Carya sp.) and oak trees (Quercus sp.) on our hike.  Trees and flowers are my favorite things to photograph in nature (though I'm starting to enjoy photographing insects as well, especially hungry bees!).  The path through the woods was my favorite part of the hike - it was beautiful!  The leaves of the beech trees bathed the woods in a wash of brilliant, bright green.  This part of the park is home to many towering oak trees, we paused our walk several times to admire more than one quiet giant. 

Our most interesting find on this hike, were Beech Blight Aphids.  These aphids do not do too much damage to the trees they feed on (they use piercing mouth parts to suck sap from the twigs and branches of the beech tree), which is good because they're fun to watch!  When threatened, these aphids lift their woolly behinds and shake them, which Kenneth and were able to witness.  This little defensive dance has led to the nickname 'boogie-woogie aphid.'  I took a short video of the aphids dancing, check it out below!

I highly recommend Sharon Woods - it's a lovely park and is perfect for a quick run, long hike, or a weekend picnic!