Toledo Metroparks Offers Taste of Summer Sports

The summer season offers ample opportunity to make healthy living a priority, especially when it comes to exercise. Taking your workout outdoors may mean new adventures, plus the added health benefits of sunshine.

From kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding to dryer activities such as archery and hiking, the Metroparks of the Toledo Area offer a variety of sporting options that don’t require any experience.

On The Water: Kayak, Paddleboard, Canoe

One of the more popular sporting activities this season has been kayaking at Farnsworth Metropark. The narrow vessels can be rented from Grand Rapids’ River Lures Kayaking staff by the hour or for a downriver trip to Side Cut, where transportation will be provided to take kayakers back to Farnsworth.

Kayak rental runs $10 for a single kayak, $15 for a tandem, per hour or $25 per person for the downriver trip. Parking is located at the Boat Launch entrance to the park on 8801 S. River Road in Waterville, near the park’s playground. Kayak hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The kayak rental launched at the end of May 2016 and has been popular. “I’ve heard great things about it,” said Katherine Clement, outdoor skills specialist for the Metroparks. “It’s been a big hit.”

Other paddling options offered in Metroparks’ programs include canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding, where participants stand on a large surfboard-looking object and use a paddle to travel along the Maumee River.

“It’s really fun,” Clement said. “Of all the water sports, I feel you’re closer to water (with the paddle boards). You have no barriers like a kayak or canoe does, and you can just get out on the water and stick your feet in. I definitely jump in the water regularly when I’m out on the paddle board.”

Although kayaking is the only sport the Metroparks currently rents equipment for, programs and classes are also available for canoeing and paddle boarding.

On Land: Archery, Fishing, Hiking

For those who prefer their recreation to involve dry land, the Metroparks has an abundance of archery programs available, including Northwest Ohio’s first public archery range at Westwinds Metropark. The park offers both static and 3-dimensional targets.

“There’s a 3-D archery course,” Clement explained. “We have everything from elk to wild turkeys and even bears.”

Those who have not tried archery may find it a soothing exercise, Clement said.

“A lot of people don’t really understand how archery works or why you would want to do it. I hadn’t done archery for a long time. It’s just a focus where you feel like you’re in this mode and feel so great to be outside and try your abilities at this. It’s very easy to get a handle on.”

Participants can bring their own archery equipment or make reservations to participate in a program. Classes are offered for all skill levels, so no archery experience is required.

Fishing programs are also offered at park locations along the Maumee River and at Wiregrass Lake.

“We are doing a lot of basic things, just come out with your kid and try out fishing to see what it’s about,” she said.

Hiking and backpacking programs are also offered, Clement added.

“If you were looking to get into basically the cheapest sport out there, you could come to one of our programs and we’ll give you the basic knowledge as far as equipment and some great trails to try.”

Various Abilities and Levels

The parks system also offers equipment and programming — known as “adaptive” sessions — for individuals with disabilities through its partnership with The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. The parks’ adaptive paddling equipment works for all of the water activities, while it also has left-hand archery adaptive equipment.

Metroparks offer a variety of program lengths for varying levels of interest, including: one-hour “try it” sessions, providing a basic knowledge of the activity; quick start classes, offering a more detailed introduction; 101 sessions, which are beginner-friendly, 8-hour sessions broken up into two days of working with certified instructors both in the parks and in the classroom. The 101 sessions are available for archery, hiking, kayaking and canoeing.

These programs offer a great opportunity to get outside of the house and your comfort zone, while staying active in the summer months. To see a full list of program offerings, visit the Metroparks’ events and program calendar. Participants must register online for all of the programs.

Have you tried any of these programs offered by the Metroparks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!