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It was about five degrees when I trekked Mt Gilead State Park, on one of those days when the sun heats up your car but leaves your body to its own devices outside. Heavens. Everything was crisp and gorgeous -- just frozen to the core.

Mt Gilead is often a Columbus resident's first car camping spot, and it has some nice features, though nothing truly outstanding. The birding is good around the marshy section, and the hikes are fairly secluded.

Mt. Gilead State Park 4119 State Route 95, Mt. Gilead 419-946-1961 (except winter) 740-548-4631 (winter) [Homepage] [Park map]

I got some good shots before my batteries completely shut down. Here's my trip in pictures, starting on the Lakeside Trail clockwise from the Nature Center.

View larger image

It was about five degrees when I trekked Mt Gilead State Park, on one of those days when the sun heats up your car but leaves your body to its own devices outside. Heavens. Everything was crisp and gorgeous -- just frozen to the core.

Mt Gilead is often a Columbus resident's first car camping spot, and it has some nice features, though nothing truly outstanding. The birding is good around the marshy section, and the hikes are fairly secluded.

Mt. Gilead State Park 4119 State Route 95, Mt. Gilead 419-946-1961 (except winter) 740-548-4631 (winter) [Homepage] [Park map]

I got some good shots before my batteries completely shut down. Here's my trip in pictures, starting on the Lakeside Trail clockwise from the Nature Center.

View larger image A lovely dam closes the lake's western end. Just above it, the water is frozen solid.

View larger image At the bridge, you can choose either the Whetstone or Lakeside trails. Each offers several shorter loops through the northern woodlands. I chose the Lakeside.

View larger image Just out of view of the water, the first side excursion appears. What's nice about the Lakeside Trail is that you can continue straight along the lake or choose to lengthen your walk with three side trips that head into the woods. None is longer than 0.8 miles.

View larger image Along much of the trail, you'll find logs pointing the way. It's a nice guide that also feels rustic.

View larger image This walkway features a nice overlook and a sign.

View larger image Storms had torn through a good deal of trees, and dwindling winter traffic means no one will be around to clean off the trails until spring. Ripped through, this tree revealed a beautiful orange interior.

View larger image This marshy area near the end of the lake is a great spot for birding. Even in the cold, I spotted downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, Northern cardinals, American crows, American goldfinches, house finches, American tree sparrows and a few others.

View larger image This boardwalk saves you from wet boots.

View larger image A view past the farmland boundary on the northern edge of the park. It's accessible from several of the side loops and the Whetstone Trail.

View larger image Elevation doesn't change too much on any trail, but you get a view small ups and downs through the valleys above the lake.

View larger image The Sam's Creek Loop was the best diversion from the Lakeside Trail. It's a bit hilly and traverses some pretty little creeks.

View larger image Just before you head back up a winding staircase to the main campground, you'll see this vintage, wooden bridge. It's safe, don't worry.