Oak Openings Corridor Trail
First Step Approved for Oak Openings Trail Connector
A long-range plan to connect the Metroparks and other natural areas in the Oak Openings Region of Western Lucas County with a multi-purpose trail is a step closer.
The Board of Park Commissioners has approved building a 1.9-mile trail connecting Secor Metropark in Berkey to Wiregrass Lake Metropark in Spencer Township, with 75 percent of the cost to be paid for with a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund.
The trail, expected to open in summer 2018, will connect the existing All Purpose Trail at Secor with the entrance to Wiregrass Lake. It will be 12 feet wide for most of that length, with 10-foot-wide sections of boardwalk made of concrete spanning sensitive wetland areas. The trail will be mostly on Metroparks-owned land, much of it acquired since 2002. The exception is a short section along the right-of-way on Dorr Street.
The Secor-to-Wiregrass connection is the first leg of what will eventually be an approximately 13-mile trail extending to Oak Openings Preserve in Swanton. Oak Openings already connects with Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Side Cut Metroparks in Maumee via the north fork of the Wabash-Cannonball Trail.
Dave Zenk, executive director of Metroparks Toledo, said the project is an important step in the park district’s ongoing plans to “connect parks to parks, and people to parks.”
“We are getting very close to being able to say that no matter where you live in Lucas County, you are never more than 5 miles from a Metropark,” Zenk said. “The other part of that vision is that the parks will be connected with trails, adding even greater accessibility and value across the county.”
Corridor to Connect Five Metroparks
Metroparks Toledo has applied for funding from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program that would provide nearly $13.5 million to complete the Oak Openings Corridor Trail, including a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Ohio Turnpike.
The Oak Openings is a globally rare, 130-square-mile region made up of a mixture of widely spaced oak forests, sand dunes, savannas, tall-grass prairies and swamp forests.
Since 2002, Metroparks Toledo and partner organizations have worked together to preserve and restore a corridor through the region for the benefit of wildlife, plants and people.
Secor on Central Avenue and Oak Openings Preserve on SR295 in Swanton bookend the Oak Opening Corridor, which includes three other Metroparks: Wiregrass Lake, opened in 2015 on N. Eber Road; Westwinds, opened in 2016 on Geiser Road; and a new park to be built this year between Monclova Road and the north fork of the Wabash Cannonball Trail. Also within the corridor are three state nature preserves: Lou Campbell, Irwin Prairies and Kitty Todd.
"The Oak Openings Corridor Trail embodies everything we envisioned when we embarked on this plan 16 years ago."
“My first involvement in Metroparks, at a leadership level, was when I co-chaired a campaign in 2002, when we proposed a land levy that would allow us to acquire substantially more parkland for the future,” said Scott Savage, president of the Board. “When the voters approved the levy two-to-one, we took that as a mandate. When voters again approved a levy in 2012 to help us develop these new parklands according to our comprehensive strategic plan, we made a promise to place a Metropark within 5 miles of everyone in Lucas County, and to connect those parks to whatever extent possible.
“The Oak Openings Corridor Trail embodies everything we envisioned when we embarked on this plan 16 years ago,” Mr. Savage said.
More Trails Coming this Year
Metroparks this year will add a total of 20 miles to its existing 172-mile trail network throughout Lucas County, including nearly 7 miles of new trail at Howard Marsh, opening this spring in Jerusalem Township.
Construction will also begin this spring on the first phase of an extension to the University/Parks Trail in Sylvania, which the park district hopes will one day connect Wildwood Preserve and Secor Metroparks.