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Thousands gather at Women’s March on Washington D.C.

Summer fun: over 20 things to do in Northwestern Ohio

From hiking to fishing to canoeing and kayaking, excursions on land and water await


One of the first things visitors to the northwestern corner of the state notice: It’s awfully flat up here. There are no rugged Appalachian glacier cuts as seen in the southeast and no forested regions such as those that blanket the northeast part of the state.

What can be found is water, lots of it. With Lake Erie to the north and the Maumee River plowing through a big chunk of the area, the region is blessed with two mainstays of outdoor adventure.

Add the sprawling Oak Openings Preserve Metropark and its vast array of unique species and plant life, and you’ve got a wonderful weekend of boating, hiking and biking adventures.

Serenity for paddlers

Forgive Chris Martin if he goes all Zen on you when describing his business.

The owner of River Lures can’t help himself when it comes to describing the peaceful adventure that awaits on the big, broad Maumee River that courses through Indiana before dumping into Lake Erie.

“What I preach all summer long is that I’m selling peace and serenity, and what I’ve gathered over the years is that people really need it,” he said.

Martin has owned River Lures in picturesque Grand Rapids (Wood County) for nine years. The village is a destination in itself, with antique shops, arts stores and good restaurants. He has grown the business to 80 watercraft, including kayaks, canoes and pontoon boats.

The Maumee starts in Fort Wayne, Ind., and then works its way north through towns and villages such as Defiance, Waterville, Antwerp, Perrysburg and Maumee before plowing through downtown Toledo, which is about 25 miles northeast of Grand Rapids.

Martin said wildlife abounds along the river, and he’s seen various kinds of turtles; waterfowl such as ducks, egrets and herons; raccoons; deer; and coyotes. Perhaps coolest of all are the bald eagles that have aeries along the Maumee and that feed in the water.

“Its unbelievable what a great resource we have here, and a lot of sections are remote,” he said.

River Lures offers 6-, 9-, 11- and 13-mile excursions that range from two to five hours. You start in Grand Rapids and then disembark and are driven back.

New this year on the 6-mile trip: Folks can exchange their canoe or kayak for a bike that can be ridden back to Grand Rapids on a bike path.

Costs range from $20 to $35 a person ($10 kayaking and stand-up board lessons are available).

River Lures also rents fishing equipment. Walleye fishing is especially popular on the Maumee because the water is often low enough that you can stand in the river and fish.

(Information: 419-832-0989, www.riverlures.com)

Charter for anglers

Don McGee is drawn to the lake the way some people gravitate toward a job or hobby. In his late 50s, he has been charter fishing on Lake Erie since 1981.

“I bought a boat before I bought a car. I’m just that kind of a person,” he said.

McGee is one of about 500 licensed captains who take everyone from hard-core anglers to inexperienced weekend casters out on the water throughout the boating season, which starts in the spring and goes to the fall.

“I get people who come in with the fanciest equipment and understand the principles of fishing, and I get people who walk in with high heels and dress shoes,” he said. “Our job is to just teach them to understand what we need to get done and what to get accomplished.”

McGee’s King and Eye Charters is about 10 miles east of Toledo in Curtice (Ottawa County) at Meinke Marina. His charter will accommodate up to six people, with the cost about $100 a person for a six- to seven-hour excursion. The fishing is primarily for walleye and perch — which can be kept up to the legal limit — but other fish such as catfish and steelheads are caught for sport and tossed back in the water.

It’s an experience, McGee says, that everyone can enjoy.

“I’m not a tyrant who’s going to stand over you with a club telling you what to do,” he said. “It’s your day, and I get people who don’t fish. They just sit down and enjoy the breeze.”

(Information: 419-277-4787)

Paradise for hikers

While in northwestern Ohio, leave time for a hike at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, which is in the southwestern corner of Lucas County near the airport and not too far from Grand Rapids.

The Nature Conservancy has named it one of the world’s “Last Great Places.” Nearly one-third of Ohio’s endangered plant species can be found here, along with a host of rare animals, many of them birds and butterflies, according to the park’s website.

It’s a great place for bird-watchers, who might see geese, red-tailed hawks, owls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, bluebirds and sand-pipers.

Much of the terrain is sandy, but some of the trails are lined with ferns and are almost primeval in appearance. Within the park the terrain ranges from oak savanna to woodland and prairie.

The 64-mile Wabash Cannonball bike trail cuts through the park for 5 miles. There also are 20 miles of trails in Oak Openings, including one designated for people riding horses. Plus, this is an excellent place to give your dog a good, long, satisfying walk.

(Information: www.metroparkstoledo.com)



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