Smeck Park - Fairfield County
"History develops, art stands still." ~ E.M. Forster
Smeck Park - Fairfield County
Open Year Round - Dawn to Dusk
Smeck Park is a beautiful park located in Baltimore, Ohio. The park offers visitors a peaceful and serene setting with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, making it a perfect destination for families, couples, and nature lovers alike.
Located at 7395 Basil Road, Smeck Park covers 48 acres of rolling hills, wooded areas, farmland, Walnut Creek, and a picturesque pond. The park offers a range of amenities for visitors, including hiking trails, a picnic area, and a playground. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, bird watching, and nature photography.
ABOUT SMECK PARK
Located in Liberty Township in the northern part of the county, the site spans over 48 acres and was acquired by donation from Harold Smeck in 1999. The park offers a range of activities, such as bird watching, nature exploration, hiking, dog walking, picnicking, and playing in the mown grassy areas.
The park boasts deep ravines and meadows, mature mixed hardwood trees, a Civilian Conservation Corps pine plantation, and fields that are partially divided by Little Walnut Creek and the Ohio & Erie Canal. It serves as a prime example of the Wisconsinan glacier, which retreated some 14,000 years ago, flattening hills, filling in valleys, and leaving behind ravines as it melted.
A beautiful open-air picnic shelter, modeled after the Rock Mill Covered Bridge, is an ideal venue for outdoor weddings, family reunions, and other special occasions. The shelter is conveniently located for residents of Baltimore, Carroll, Pickerington, and Canal Winchester, and only a 15-20 minute drive from Lancaster.
HIKING TRAILS AT SMECK PARK
This beautiful Fairfield County has two trails that combine into one. The trails are not extremely difficult, but there are some elevations changes and a tall set of stairs. The trails are not long, but the scenery is gorgeous. For the most part, Smeck Park is quiet and serene. However, in some areas you can hear a constant noise from the Baltimore Waste Water Plant.
The Park has 2 trails:
Paw Paw Trail (1.5 Miles)
Walnut Creek Trail (.5 Mile)
PAW PAW TRAIL
The 1.5-mile Paw Paw Trail connects with the Walnut Creek Trail to form a two-mile loop. With its rustic, unpaved terrain and stunning views of ridges, ravines, and meadows, this trail is perfect for those looking for a short, calming hike.
During the spring there is a vast array of spring wildflowers. You are also surrounded by towering sycamore trees, and pine trees planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
WALNUT CREEK TRAIL
The unpaved 0.5-mile trail offers moderate terrain with lots of stairs. Down in the ravine you are able to see Walnut Creek. We saw the most spring wildflowers in this area.
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STARTING FROM THE PARKING LOT
From the parking lot you walk directly west. Almost immediately to your left is a large, very nice playground. There are several picnic tables in the area.
And on your right, a small pond.
Heading further in is the Stover Windmill standing in front of the Cruit House and the Fetter-Hood Barn.
Standing just shy of 60 feet tall, the windmill is an awe-inspiring structure. It features a 750-gallon water tank perched on a platform 30 feet above the ground. It was originally constructed by the Stover Windmill Company of Freeport, Illinois in the late 1800s. The windmill was initially installed on the Roger Wolfe farm on Canal Road before being relocated to Smeck Park in 2016.
While most of the windmill remains original, a new fan and motor were required for its restoration. The fan measures 10 feet in diameter.
In 1829, William and Hanna (Moon) Cruit, immigrants from England, settled in Fairfield County and built a house in Section 24 of Greenfield Township. The home was later purchased in 1886 by Jacob and Mary (Bryant) Wagner, and their descendants retained ownership throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Subsequently, the home was owned and occupied by the Reef-Beck family for over a century, until it was eventually moved to its current location at Smeck Park in 2019.
The Fetter-Hood Barn, originally located just outside of Lancaster, was dismantled in 2005-2006 and stored until plans for its reconstruction at Smeck Park were established. However, the project was delayed in 2015 due to financial limitations. However, the barn has now been rebuilt and looks magnificent.
The barn features a double forebay and follows the common Pennsylvania German-style construction method used in Ohio during the 1700-1800s, known as the banked barn.
PAW PAW TRAIL & WALNUT CREEK TRAIL
The Paw Paw trail head stars between the Cruit House and Fetter-Hood Barn. Heading down the trail you will first pass some old farm equipment which sits next to the bathrooms. Just looking at the building I would never have thought that it was the bathrooms. The building looks like an old carriage house. They did an amazing job making the building fit in with the farm theme.
Going past the restrooms, you will come across a gravel parking lot near the Smeck Picnic Shelter. The shelter house has several picnic tables and a charcoal grill.
Once you pass the Smeck Picnic shelter, the true trail starts. The trail is rough and natural. There are a few areas that are washed out and could benefit from a grader. However, they are not unpassable.
Part way through the Paw Paw Trail you will come upon the Walnut Trail.
The Walnut trail makes its way through a meadow, then through some trees, and down into a ravine where you walk beside Walnut Creek.
Then you come upon the steps. There are a lot of them.
Once you make it up the steps you make your way back to the Paw Paw Trail. The Paw Paw trail then takes you back to the shelter house where you can rest.
BIRDING, WILDLIFE, AND FLOWERS
In addition to enjoying the trails at Smeck Park, visitors can see lots of birds and other wildlife. Smeck park has a diverse landscape, so you can see all types of critters. According to eBird, there have been 95 different species of birds observed at the park.
Smeck park is also known for having a beautiful filed of sunflowers. The flowers can be enjoyed from late summer through early fall. The field of sunflowers makes a great backdrop for photography.
During our late April visit there were lots of spring wildflowers blooming.
The parking lot is quite large and has approximately 80 parking spaces, 4 of which are ADA parking spaces. There are also 2 separate spaces for bus parking. The parking lot at Smeck Park is blacktop.
There is another parking lot near the shelter house. It looks as though that parking lot is for special events only. It is limestone and has approximately 12 spots.
Smeck Park in Baltimore Ohio is a wonderful park that is well kept. It is beautiful and perfect for families who want to get outside for a little bit. It is perfect for short hikes and nature photography. However, if you are looking for a place that provides more strenuous hikes, this is not the place. But if you are just looking to get your steps in, you could always walk the trails a couple times.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT SMECK PARK
Please note that trail rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Smeck Park as of April 2023.
There are bathrooms located between the parking lot and the shelter house.
Bicycles are not permitted on the Smeck Park hiking trails.
eBird shows there have been 95 species of bird spotted at Smeck Park.
Concealed carry is permitted.
Pets are permitted. They must be kept on a leash.
Trails are natural and can get muddy in spots.
Blacktop parking lot has approximately 80 parking spaces plus 2 bus parking spots.
There are picnic tables located at the shelter house and near the playground.
There is a nice playground.
There are few benches scattered through the park.
A lot of sun and shade.
Large shelter house behind Fetter-Hood Barn.
Trails are easy to see.
Trails are easy to moderate.
We saw a trash can near the kiosk by the playground and at the shelter house.
Small pond near the parking lot.
There are 4 ADA parking spaces located in the main parking lot.