Why Residents, Visitors, and Businesses Should Take Note of the Dayton Region’s MetroParks
25 Jul 2022
July is Park and Recreation Month, the perfect time to spotlight Montgomery County, Ohio's numerous and diverse MetroParks! The parks and accompanying recreation not only enhance the health and wellbeing of residents, they function as economic drivers by attracting visitors and fostering desirable, vibrant, and resilient communities in the Greater Dayton Region.
According to National Geographic, Dayton has significantly revitalized its urban green spaces over recent years. The parks welcomed some 3.3 million visitors in 2018, making Dayton’s parks more popular than New York’s Central Park on a per-capita basis. Visitors are economic drivers as they spend their money on lodging, gear, food, and retail. Furthermore, Five Rivers programs attracted more than a quarter million participants, and locals contributed nearly a million dollars worth of volunteer hours.
Recent research demonstrates further just how important recreation amenities are. In 2022, Brookings researchers analyzed communities throughout the Midwest, evaluating the impact of quality of life improvements on the economy. They reported, “After estimating quality of life (what makes a place attractive to households) and quality of business environment (what makes a place especially productive and attractive to businesses) in communities across the Midwest, we found quality of life matters more for population growth, employment growth, and lower poverty rates than quality of business environment.”
Today, people won’t settle for anything less than communities that meet their lifestyle needs. In response, businesses are searching for locations that meet their operational requirements and provide the quality of life their employees want. The Greater Dayton Region and Montgomery County check all these boxes because they have both a desirable quality of life and an attractive business environment.
Five Rivers MetroParks
The Five Rivers MetroParks system makes Dayton a fabulous place to get outdoors and play! Montgomery County — nestled in the Miami Valley — offers 2,400 acres of forests, nature preserves, and wildlife areas for exploration. Many trees in the forested areas protected by Five Rivers MetroParks have been around much longer than the city of Dayton or even the state of Ohio.
The MetroParks offer up lots of fun on the water because five major waterways converge in Dayton: the Great Miami River, Mad River, Stillwater River, Wolf Creek, and Twin Creek. Additionally, there’s the 185-acre Eastwood Lake and several smaller lakes and ponds. Powerboating, jet skiing, rowing, sailing, watersports, and fishing are favorite pastimes.
There is always something special going on in the MetroParks: check out the activities and events. In particular, the 2022 MetroParks Trails Challenge runs through October 31, 2022. This self-paced exploration of area trails is packed with hiking, walking, cycling, paddling, mountain biking, and horseback riding adventures. Registration is free and still open, and there’s a chance to win prizes.
- Eastwood MetroPark is an outdoor recreation hub where you can experience nature without leaving the city through a variety of water-based and land-based recreational and leisurely activities. Features include Eastwood Lake, Mad River Water Trail, Creekside Trail, Grassland Prairies, and much more.
- Englewood MetroPark, one of the largest parks in the region, offers a disc golf course and the Benedict Blincoe Wildlife Observation Area. The stars of the park are “Big Blue,” a champion blue ash tree, and its three waterfalls: Martindale, Patty, and Oaks.
- Germantown MetroPark is a gateway to a wilderness adventure, traversing some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes. Discover the largest areas of old-growth forest within Montgomery County, water-carved ravines, colorful prairies, and meadows. Only 20 minutes from Dayton, the park feels a world away.
- Huffman MetroPark has the MetroParks Mountain Biking Area (MoMBA) — the only trails in the area built specifically for and open exclusively to mountain biking. MoMBA provides more than nine miles of trails for beginner riders to the most advanced. Huffman Lake is home to bass, bluegill, catfish, and carp and has access for nonpowered watercraft at the Lake View entrance. On land, the Buckeye and North Country Trails pass through the park. The Buckeye Trail is part of a 1,440-mile continuous loop that completely encircles Ohio. Likewise, the North Country National Scenic Trail stretches across seven states and will be 4,600 miles long when completed.
- Island MetroPark offers a long stretch of flat water ideal for rowing. Bring your own kayak, paddleboard, or canoe, or contact the Greater Dayton Rowing Association for equipment, facility use, and membership. For the kids, the park features both a traditional playground and a sprayground. The Buckeye and North Country Trails (see Huffman MetroPark) pass through the park.
- Riverscape MetroPark is a lively park on the banks of the Great Miami River, offering a place for those who live, work, and play downtown to connect to nature. Residents and visitors can enjoy the beautifully landscaped gardens, hanging baskets, festival grounds, and reflecting pools. The Five Rivers Fountain of Lights straddles the confluence of the Great Miami and Mad rivers just east of the Riverside Bridge and shoots 2,500 gallons of water per minute toward the center of the river.
- Twin Creek MetroPark serves up the best wilderness experience in the region, just 20 minutes south of Dayton. Part of the Twin Valley Conservation Corridor, Twin Creek MetroPark offers rugged ridges, mature forests, and breathtaking ravines, making it an ideal spot for hiking, backpacking, and camping. Twin Creek — home to a dozen types of mussels and 62 types of fish — is one of the cleanest waterways in the state and offers some of the best fishing and paddling in the region.
- Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark actively promotes landscaping with native plants in balance with traditional garden selections. Home gardeners will find a wealth of design ideas, plant combinations, and cultivation techniques. Kids will appreciate the wonders of the Children's Discovery Garden. The Marie Aull Nature Trail and the Swamp Forest Boardwalk are gateways to exploring the botanical richness of the Stillwater River Corridor.
There are many more MetroParks to discover on your weekends, vacations, and even staycations! Explore Sugarcreek, Aullwood Garden, Carriage Hill, Cox Arboretum, Deed’s Point, Hills & Dales, Possum Creek, Sunrise, Taylorsville, and Wesleyan, as well as Conservation Areas: Dull Woods, Medlar, and Woodman Fen.
An interactive MetroParks map can be found here.
Discover all the reasons Dayton has received national recognition for its livability! Visit selectmcohio.com for more information on quality of life resources and initiatives, and grants available for businesses. Follow Montgomery County on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.