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Twin Valley Backpack Trail, OH

Crossing the Germantown Dam. Photos by Mary Reed.

You can count on two hands the number of backpacking trails in Ohio, so the state’s newest backpack trail is significant for that reason alone. Now add the fact that it’s the state’s first backpack trail in a metropark – a metropark! – and you’ve got the Twin Valley Trail, Dayton’s newest feat in its efforts to become the adventure capital of the Midwest.

“We want to give (Daytonites) a spot locally instead of going to the Smoky Mountains,” says Tom Helbig, special events coordinator for Five Rivers Outdoors, the outdoor adventure arm of Dayton’s Five Rivers MetroParks. “The major mission of Five Rivers Outdoors is creating access to adventure.”

In the case of the Twin Valley Trail, opening June 21, that means a 22-mile backpacking trail and three primitive campsites a mere 20-minute drive from downtown Dayton. Sure, it might not have the waterfalls, wildlife and real wilderness of the Smoky Mountains, but it also doesn’t have a six-hour drive to get there.

The backpack trail connects existing trails in Germantown and Twin Creek parks. The terrain varies from road to open fields to young woods to mature forest. Most of the trail skirts Twin Creek, a clean, biodiverse body of water than can provide drinking water (bring your purifier) or a bass dinner. Expect to see wildflowers spring through fall, white-tailed deer and both field and forest birds.

The three primitive campsites have outhouses and no fire rings, so bring your camp stove and practice Leave No Trace, perhaps especially important principles in what is certain to be a heavily used destination.

Five Rivers Outdoors even offers backpacking classes for newbies. So if you’ve never even backpacked but been thinking about it, here’s your chance to get out in a new way.

Where it’s at: 20 minutes from Dayton; from the intersection of OH 4 and OH 725 southwest of Dayton, take 725 west four miles to Boomershine Road. Turn north and continue to the Germantown MetroPark nature center.

Contact: Five Rivers Outdoors, or (937) 277-4374

Digs: Backcountry sites along the trail are free but require a permit; English Manor Bed and Breakfast in Miamisburg is a bit frou frou, but a good option when you’re ready to move from ground to bed, or (937) 866-2288

Grub: TJ Chumps in Miamisburg, or (937) 859-4000

Gear and Outfitting: Great Miami Outfitters in Miamisburg, or (937) 847-8787

Cost: Free, like the way you’ll feel. Permits required.