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Chestnut Ridge Metro Park often gets overlooked because of its distance from Downtown and relatively short trail stock. However, the Carroll expanse is definitely worth a trip this winter. With leaves gone, you can see for miles from the namesake ridge, which rises 150 feet above the valley below.
(You can also see meteors during the Geminid shower, which peaks in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, Dec. 14. Naturalists will lead a nighttime viewing hike to see the first streaks at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.)
Three trails take hikers into forests and elevated meadows, where several homesteads have been built over the years. There's really nothing like it in the Metro Parks.
View larger image The Ridge Trail is one of the most challenging in the Metro Parks system. It features tough climbs and rather steep descents to and from a 4,500-foot-long ridge.
View larger image As you slowly ascend the park's namesake ridge, stop and look at the countryside below. This boardwalk has a much-needed bench.
View larger image The view along the way is outstanding, especially just before dusk, when the sunlight pushes shadows through tall forests extending into valleys on either side.
View larger image Sunset in a meadow on the ridge
View larger image This row of giant pines greets along the Homestead Trail, which leads to an old house once built on the site. Only the foundation and some domesticated fruit trees remain.
View larger image After coming down, check out the observation deck overlooking the main pond. Anglers 16 and younger can fish for bluegill, bass and catfish as the smaller pond nearby.