Eight Great Ways To Explore the Outdoors

- By Rich Warren -

Trumbull County

Midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Trumbull County has sights and sounds that offer visitors an abundance of unexpected experiences. Whether it be the chance to admire the sleek lines of vintage cars at the National Packard Museum, listen to the clip-clop of an Amish horse and buggy, or pay homage to President McKinley at his birthplace, the county’s wide range of attractions fascinate visitors. But with 44,000 acres dedicated to outdoor recreation, the second largest inland lake in Ohio, a newly designated “wild and scenic” river and even a wagon ride where you’ll come face to face with a hungry camel, Trumbull County is also most definitely a place where the Call of the Wild sounds strong. Here are eight great places to explore the outdoors.

Mosquito Lake

Tranquility reigns at Mosquito Lake, a 10-mile-long and mile-wide aquatic oasis. Surrounded by a state park with peaceful woodlands lining the shores, the lake’s primary lure is boating and fishing. The odds of having good luck catching the abundant walleye, bass and crappie are great. Birdwatchers love looking for the yellow-bellied sapsuckers and hairy woodpeckers, which are much more common here than in the rest of Ohio and will also be treated with glimpses of rare migrating birds like Prothonotary warblers. Pontoons and motorboats can be rented at the Mosquito Lake Marina, and recreational possibilities include archery, disc golf or frolicking with your pooch at the Dog Beach. Those who want peace and quiet all night long can choose one of 232 campsites in a mature forest or two yurts complete with partially covered decks right on the water’s edge.

Wagon Trails Animal Park

It’s not a ride on an African savannah — but it’s close! Named in USA Today’s list of 10 Great Places for a North American Safari, Wagon Trails Animal Park in Vienna gives visitors the chance to ride in open-air wagons through a landscape filled with more than 350 animals from six continents. Sprinkle food into their mouths as the animals crowd alongside, mooching for even more treats. Bison, zebras, water buffalos, ostriches and long-horned cattle compete to eat, with wily camels actually dive bombing their long necks inside the wagon trying to grab whole buckets of food from unsuspecting hands. It’s a special thrill to see huge elk swim a 5-acre pond to reach the wagons and stroke their velvet antlers once they arrive. Afterward, stroll through the petting zoo to see peacocks strut their stuff or macaws hanging by their beaks.

Golf Destination

With more than 20 golf courses with 300 challenging holes, Trumbull County is a dream golf destination. It’s also home to a number of heritage golf courses dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, with many courses designed by top golf course architects like Robert White, Walter Travis, Stanley Thompson and Pete Dye, named Architect of the Year by Golf World Magazine. Four of the county’s courses — Pine Lakes, Yankee Run, Avalon Lakes and Avalon Squaw Creek — have been designated as premier 4.5 to 5-star properties. Avalon Lakes consistently ranks in the top 100 golf courses in the country, and Yankee Run was voted one of the top 10 public courses in Ohio. Take advantage of several stay and play packages, including the Northeast Ohio Golf Trail and the Avalon Inn, northern Ohio’s only luxury resort.

Mahoning River Adventures

The meandering Mahoning River snakes its way through Trumbull County flowing first north, then south, through wooded, rural and urban areas. It’s a veritable ribbon of greenery, this Water Trail provides long deep pools and scenic views. One of the best ways to enjoy it is with Mahoning River Adventures, which rents kayaks and provides rides to the starting point. Basic safety instruction is offered, but then river riders are on their own, choosing between a short 3.6-mile jaunt or a longer 11-mile course for those who want to make a day of it. Newbies to kayaking are surprised to learn that kayaks tip far less often than canoes and require much less paddling. The slow current leaves time for kayakers to jump out and swim, fish for bluegill or catfish, or watch the abundant wildlife, which includes bald eagles, great blue herons and otters. The return of hellbender salamanders offer testimony to how the water’s quality has vastly improved in recent decades.

Western Reserve Greenway

The Western Reserve Greenway is aptly named — the trees on either side arch to form a lush, green canopy in the summertime. The paved trail passes along scenic waterways, through rolling farmland and lively woodlands and is a perfect pathway for pedestrians, equestrians, bikers and inline skaters. In the winter, cross-country skiers can take advantage of the snowy, ungroomed, natural beauty. The Greenway extends 17 miles through Trumbull County, but also connects to a 27-mile trail in Ashtabula County. Take short diversions to see Ohio’s oldest Civil War monument in Bristolville and homes with Underground Railroad heritage in North Bloomfield.

Disc Golf

You won’t need a caddy, and you’ll never have a bad tee time playing disc golf! You won’t need a set of clubs or golf balls either, just a disc — or Frisbee — that you launch with as much force and skill as you can muster. Choose from among the five courses in Trumbull County, from an 18-hole course at Young’s Run at Clarence Darrow Park to Squirrel Run at Mosquito Lake with some holes near the water and others through tight paths in the woods.

Warren Community Amphitheater

The Warren Community Amphitheater, or The Amp as locals fondly refer to it, serves as an outdoor community clubhouse during warm-weather months, when folks gather there for events like movie screenings and concerts that range from local musicians to tribute bands paying nostalgic homage to the likes of Queen and Jimmy Buffett. The outdoor amphitheater is right on the banks of the Mahoning River. Concert-goers can stroll on the walkways by the river or through the adjacent Perkins Park. The art galleries and restaurants downtown are just a short saunter away, as is the just-opened CharBenay’s Wine on the River on the opposite side of the river. Concert goers can sit on CharBenay’s patio tasting local and California wines, then head over to enjoy music under the stars.

Pymatuning Creek

A bald eagle regally regards you from its treetop perch. A swimming beaver angrily slaps its tail on the water. A yellow warbler makes golden flashes in the shrubbery as it flits away. Literally hundreds of bird, fish, plant and animal species can be found along a 30-mile stretch of Pymatuning Creek in northeast Trumbull County. Just designated a state Wild and Scenic River in December 2018, the area is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in Ohio and is home to dozens of endangered and threatened species like sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans. Intrepid nature lovers will find challenges penetrating the dense, extensive wetlands, and be rewarded for their efforts with ample opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, hunting or hiking — or just communing with nature surrounded by birdsong and vistas of rippling water.