Valley View Nature Trails in Milford offer a full natural experience, ready or not. Located at 790 Garfield Ave., Milford, Ohio, it is conveniently located behind Patterson Elementary School, but easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. There’s no parking lot to identify the entrance of the trails, you simply park in the grass off the gravel road that runs past the school. The gravel road goes on into the trail area, but is blocked by the closed gate of a wooden fence, and you actually enter the trail by stepping in a gap in the fence. There’s a trail guidepost with color-coded arrows pointing in the direction of each trail, a sign under a roofed display with information, and some bird watching platforms at the beginning of the trails. We took the path to the right, following the Prairie Trail.
We walked on Sunday, August 19, 2018, at noon, with a temperature of 81 degrees, and sunny conditions. The trail was a wide path of mowed grass along the edge of a meadow area, with woods on the other side. We were surprised to see some of the trails were completely waterlogged, and impassable, as it hadn’t rained that much for a while. The condition of the trail changed as we walked from low grass to high grass, and some narrow muddy parts. We wore tennis shoes, and wished we had worn our muck boots, as at one point the mud was so slippery Greg lost his footing and fell.
Several narrow trails veered off the Prairie Trail, and we followed some that led to a lovely stretch along the East Fork of the Little Miami River. These trails didn’t have guideposts, and weren’t shown on our map we printed off the web site, causing us to become lost, and having to back track to find our way. We came across a picnic table and some wooden benches, but the grass was over-grown around them, and they were unusable. When we finally finished the trail, looping back to the beginning, we had walked two miles.
Restrooms: There were no restrooms of any kind there.
Traffic Noise: There was no traffic noise, just lovely sound of song birds.
Historic Points of Interest: The Valley View Foundation’s trails sit on land that was farmed by the Gatch Family since the early 1800’s. Their farming activities and other farmers in the area dug up lots of Native American artifacts from thousands of years ago. The Gatch farm was known as “The Arrowhead Farm”. When Phillip Gatch moved there in 1799, there were still remains of ancient Native American walls, also called earthworks, on top of the hill above Valley View that ran to and beyond Greenlawn Cemetery. The purpose of the earthworks are unknown, but suggests a large Native American presence. Phillip Gatch is reported in The Valley of the Mound Builders blog as saying that he found the earthworks enclosing about 50 acres, and that the Native Americans of his time had no idea who built them.
Overall Rating: We really enjoyed the authentic natural experience on this trail, complete with scrapes, scratches, mud, high grass, river view, getting lost, and sharing the trail with a couple frogs. It made us feel like kids again at some points, at others we imagined the Native Americans who lived on this very land as they wrestled with the elements every day. We had the park to ourselves except for one person walking a dog, allowing us to lose ourselves in the natural world, connect with our spirits, and take pleasure in the joy of a simple summer day.