This past weekend, Lucy and I took to the wide-open road and drove about an hour out to Ravenna to try a new portion of the Buckeye Trail – the West Branch Loop – which looped around the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir. It was a lovely trail, for the most part, and really challenging! It took just about six hours for us to complete it (we stopped for lunch partway through for a half hour), and I’m glad I had my headlamp. It was completely dark by the time we got back to the car. Read on to find out why and to check out all the pics!
-Length: 9.4 miles
-Elevation: 535 ft.
-It had some very beautiful spots, really gorgeous. I bet it’s awesome in summer!
-It was remote – I didn’t see anyone else on the trail, and for most of it couldn’t hear any cars, etc.
-Enough of a challenge to make it interesting
-Because it doesn’t seem to be traversed often, you really gotta keep your eyes open for the Buckeye Trail blue blazes that are painted on the trees. Some are faded, and some are spread a little far apart. I didn’t have any issues and didn’t have to backtrack at all, but you DO really need to watch. I *did* check my AllTrails App a couple of times, just to be sure I was on the right path.
-Remember how I mentioned it was a really challenging hike? That’s because the first half of it was definitely in a state of thawing mud – I’ve never been on a trail like that before – where the mud took on this half frozen weirdly inflated feel. So basically every time I stepped my foot went down and in different directions. Not sure how else to describe it, but it made for slow going and really sore feet the next day. So hiker, beware! May want to wait until it’s dried out a bit more.
-Holy crap – there are two places, at either end of the loop, where you have to walk on the road for a little bit. Fairly common with the BT.