One of my favorite things about visiting parks is watching them change through the seasons. Of course, we find ourselves in the heart of autumn, though the golden, orangey hues are quickly fading as the trees lose their leaves. Half barren branches are a reminder that in nature, nothing lasts forever. The end of autumn is like biting into an overripe peach, soaking up the last of this season’s sweetness, before we find it replaced with skeletal trees and blankets of snow. The leaves beneath our feet are both a hello and a goodbye.
I took this to heart as I soaked in what is left of autumn’s beauty at Governor Bebb MetroPark. There were still plenty of autumn colors to behold, as the trails were carpeted in freshly fallen leaves.
I began my trek on the Chief Cornstalk Trail, a 1-mile loop that highlights several sections of the park. Passing by a shelter, group campsite, and vistas of trees, this trail served as a testament that Governor Bebb allows for connection with nature in a multitude of ways.
This park may be a longer drive for some, as it is located in Okeana, Ohio. However, I spent my time on the trail convinced that the journey is well worth it for the peaceful environment Governor Bebb offers. Leaves gently fell to the ground as the wind whispered its breeze through my hair. For a moment, the world had slowed down and was silent. In a digital, corporate world littered with concrete jungles, I can’t help but notice how we are disconnected from nature more than ever. Governor Bebb has reminded me that nature should be intertwined in our life, not absent from it.
I continued my walk through the woods noticing nature’s varying shapes, sizes, and forms. Leaves of orange, yellows, and reds clashed with the green of the towering pine trees. Leaves on the ground were puzzle pieces of different shapes, forming a golden mosaic. Trees that were once green now boasted pigments of red on their leaves’ tips.
Still yearning for more glimpses of autumn’s beauty, I made my way to another section of the park to begin on the Pelewa Trail, which provides connections to several other trails in the park. This trail winds through the forest and quickly opens up to vast meadow. Suddenly, the grandness of trees was replaced with wispy grasses and wildflowers. The colors clashed against an overcast sky, making for a beautiful panorama. The Grenadier Squaw Meadow Trail continues on a 1-mile loop through the landscape, but I decided to wander back into the forest.
I took the Serenity Trail, which leads to a unique feature of Governor Bebb MetroPark: Pioneer Village. At its focal point stands the 1799 birthplace cabin and childhood home of William Bebb, the 19th Governor of Ohio. Six other authentic log cabins surround it, forming a representative early Midwestern settlement. This village serves as a site for MetroParks educational programs and events, giving participants a glimpse into pioneer life.
Nearby stands a beautiful, covered bridge, a welcome as visitors enter the park. Built in 1850, and one of two remaining covered bridges in the county, it was moved from the Oxford area and rebuilt at the park entrance in 1970. From its historical structures to its natural scenery, Governor Bebb is not lacking in sights to behold.
Though my time spent at the park was short, Governor Bebb also offers camping opportunities in its campground area, located along the banks of Dry Fork Creek. Group, non-electric, and electric sites are all available for those looking for an outdoor overnight experience right in the heart of the park. Also available is the Murstein Group Cabin, tucked in the back of the Dry Fork Campground.
So what makes a park? For Governor Bebb, I’ve found that its historical components play a large role in its park identity. They serve as a reminder of our undying need to connect with nature, and how important it is in our lives. Though we have progressed rapidly over the past decades, the presence of nature remains constant. It’s up to us to step away from the rest of the world and listen to the earth breathe. Governor Bebb provides that refuge. If we slow down and listen closely, we can hear nature’s breath fall into unison with our own.