Upland Woods, Wetwoods, and
Hike Location: Secor Metropark
Geographic Location: west of
Length: 3.1 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: August 2017
Overview: A flat semi-loop through a wide variety of woods.
Park Information: https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/secor/
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=639231
Directions to the trailhead: On the west side of
take I-475 to US 20 (exit 13). Exit and
go west on US 20. Drive US 20 west 4.5
miles to the signed park entrance on the left.
Turn left to enter the park, and follow signs for the for Nature Photography. Park in the large paved parking lot behind
the Center. National
The hike: Cutting a narrow 1300 square mile north-south swath through northwestern
and southeastern Michigan, the
Oak Openings form one of the Great Lakes region’s most
interesting ecosystems. The area’s
biodiversity was highlighted in Edwin L. Moseley’s book Flora of the Oak
Openings published in 1928, and the area is sometimes still called the
Moseley region today. The Oak Openings
lie on a series of low sand hills left behind by glaciers, and the glacier
deposits make the openings slightly higher in elevation than the surrounding . Thus, while the Great
is very wet and heavily forested, the Oak Openings harbor seasonally wet
prairies, oak woodland, and oak savannas, hence the name “openings.” In fact, early settlers said that the trees
in the Oak Openings were so sparse that a wagon could be driven in any
direction without the need to build a path. Great
Only a portion of the Oak Openings remains intact today, but several of the 14 parks that comprise Metroparks Toledo lie in that remnant. One such park is Secor Metropark. Established in 1949, Secor was the first Toledo Metropark established after the original six from the 1930’s. The park is named for Arthur J. Secor, who bequeathed a parking lot that provided the money needed to purchase the land. Before it became a park, the land belonged to the Jacob Wolfinger Farm, and a Wolfinger family cemetery is still maintained on site; it is located just south of the trailhead parking area.
Secor Metropark is also regionally famous for its
for Nature Photography,
which is located adjacent to the trailhead parking area. The Center features some nice photography
exhibits and a wildlife viewing window, but it is only open Friday through
Sunday. Hence, I did not get to tour the
Center on my Monday visit. The park also
offers several picnic shelters, 3.5 miles of multi-use trails, and nearly 6
miles of hiking trails. The hike
described here explores the western portion of the park, which contains the
transition zone between an oak opening to the east and a swamp to the west. National
|Kiosk at trailhead|
From the parking area, walk west past the south entrance for the
for Nature Photography to
reach the information kiosk that serves as the trailhead. The hike/bike path also starts here and forms
its loop by going left and right. This
hike continues straight to head for the dirt Upland Woods Trail, which soon
curves left to head into its namesake woods. National
Ignore some side trails that exit right to the Woodland Pond Trail and stay with the wide dirt trail as it heads south through dense woods dominated by large oak trees. A few good-sized beech and poplar trees also grow here. Trails at Secor Metropark are identified by name and color with numbered markers posted at one-tenth mile intervals. The Upland Woods Trail is marked with grey markers that you will pass in increasing order.
|Hiking the Upland Woods Trail|
After crossing a dirt road, at 0.4 miles you reach a signed trail intersection. We will eventually turn right here to reach the Wildflower Trail, but first turn left to hike the Upland Woods Trail’s short loop. At the next intersection, a right turn will take you counterclockwise around the loop, which takes you through more mature
oak forest. Ignore side trails that exit right to the
park road and the bike path and stay left to complete the loop at 0.8
miles. Continue straight to begin the
yellow-marked Wildflower Trail.
After crossing the main park road, a narrow unmarked spur trail exits left. We will eventually continue straight to finish the Wildflower Trail. To get a taste of
, turn left to head for the
Meadowview Picnic Area, then angle right to begin the red-marked Wetwoods
Trail. As its name implies, the Wetwoods
Trail spends most of its distance in seasonally inundated swamp forest. Part of this swamp forest has been drained by
creeks that have been deepened and straightened to form ditches. Bugs are very bad in this part of the park,
so wear good bug spray if you choose to hike the Wetwoods Trail in the summer. Great Black
The Wetwoods Trail starts in a meadow area but soon descends imperceptibly to reach the gravel bike path and Wiregrass Creek, one of the ditches mentioned above. The trail crosses Wiregrass Creek on the bike path’s bridge before splitting to form its loop. Turn right to begin paralleling Wiregrass Creek and hike the loop counterclockwise. A nice bench sits at this intersection if the bugs are not too bad.
The trail heads northwest with the creek/ditch on the right. Some bright red cardinal flower was blooming beside the trail on my visit. Soon you curve left to begin following Prairie Creek, another creek that has been transformed into a ditch. Near the park’s western boundary, as the trail moves away from Prairie Creek you begin a long and fairly new wooden boardwalk that takes you over the wettest area.
|Boardwalk on Wetwoods Trail|
At 1.9 miles, you reach the end of the boardwalk where the Wetwoods Trail ends at the gravel bike path. Turn left to return first to the start of the Wetwoods Trail, then to the Meadowview Picnic Area, and eventually to the Wildflower Trail. Turn left to continue the Wildflower Trail.
The Wildflower Trail heads northwest to cross a paved road and pass near the Lone Oak Picnic Area. I did not notice many wildflowers along the Wildflower Trail, but August is not the best time of year for woodland wildflowers. Just past 2.5 miles, the trail splits only to come back together in another 0.2 miles. The left option takes you through a seasonally wet area along Prairie Creek/ditch, while the right option stays on higher and drier ground. Choose whichever option seems best based on the trail conditions you encounter.
|Entering an oak opening|
The trail surface turns grassy as you enter sunny open forest. Just before you reach the gravel bike path for the last time, you leave the forest and enter one of the sunny oak savannahs that make the Oak Openings famous. When you intersect the gravel bike path, turn right to cross the main park road and return to the
on Nature Photography. If you want a little more time in the
prairie, consider tacking on the sunny orange-marked Prairie Trail, a short 0.3
mile loop located just north of the photography center. National