Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mill Creek Park

Photo by OHventures

Mill Creek Park
123 McKinley Ave
Youngstown, OH 44509

I remember going to Mill Creek Park way back when I was a wee one. Me and my 2nd grade class hopped aboard a school bus and drove out to the ultimate Youngstown oasis and explored high and low! That, however, was just the first of my many visits to this magnificent park. Mill Creek Park is HUGE. And I am not just saying that because it seemed so for an elementary student. I am saying that because it literally is 4,400 acres of spectacular greenspace, which makes it the LARGEST metropark in Ohio!!

This Mahoning County diamond in the rough is not your average park. The centerpiece of the area is Lanterman's Mill, a gristmill built way back in 1846 that still operates to this day (although there were periods in which the mill did not operate). This old treasure is awesome to look at and learn from. It's a true educational experience, which is why many school groups and curious tourists take time to visit. A tour is just $1 for adults and includes a brief history of how the mill came to be, and an opportunity to explore the mill from top (where the grain gets ground) to bottom (where you can check out the wheel well).

If you visit when the water is flowing and the levels are high enough, you also can find yourself right in the middle of the production of the buckwheat, cornmeal, and flour produced at Lanterman's Mill. The gift shop sells 2 pound bags for just $2 and 5 pound bags for $5. I bought a bag during my most recent trip and can't wait to make some Ohio cornbread!

There is an observation deck on a bridge near Lanterman's Mill to get great pictures (above), as well as a fantastic covered bridge (which can be seen in the distance in the picture above). The Mill itself is open May-October, Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday.April and November, Saturday and Sunday only; and closed December through March.

In addition to the Mill, you can participate in a number of outdoor activities at Mill Creek Park that appear on the Buckeye Bucket List, including hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeingboating, fishing, and paddleboating. The water activities can take place on either one of the park's lakes: Lake Glacier and Lake Newport, and all rentals are under $10 a person - you can't get much better than that!

There are 14 hiking trails, two of which are right by the Mill. Trails 7 and 8 (East Gorge Walk and West Gorge Trail) which together create a 2 mile loop along Mill Creek. While part of the trail consists of a boardwalk, the majority of the trail is rather challenging terrain with hills, twists and turns. There are massive rocks that exhibit Ohio's geology at its finest (above). I would highly suggest embarking on this trail! It would take a very long time to tell you in detail about each of the hiking trails offered at Mill Creek Park, so be sure to grab a trail map and explore!

Another point of interest at Mill Creek Park is the Suspension Bridge, sometimes referred to as the Silver Bridge, the Cinderella Bridge, or simply "the Bridge" (regulars know what you're talking about). It's an iron link bridge that has a regal look to it. On any given summer day, you're bound to spot a few wedding parties taking photos on the bridge (my cousin just did!). It's perfect for photo ops or romantic strolls.

The fun doesn't stop there. The park is so vast that it has room for not one, but TWO 18-hole golf course! There are also tons of seasonal events that take place at Mill Creek, including the current 7UP Summertime Concert Series where one of our featured OHventurers played a show! I have only talked about the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mill Creek Park, so take it from me and GO and see for yourself!

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