There’s more than meets the eye at Carriage Hill MetroPark

A beautiful, peaceful park tucked away in the countryside near Huber Heights, Carriage Hill MetroPark deserves the spotlight once fall begins flaunting its bright colors.

As one of the first MetroPark facilities, Carriage Hill has been a day-trip destination for generations of Dayton families. Once a farmland and woodlots, more than 50 years of natural succession have created rich areas of forests, thickets, meadows and prairies for visitors to explore, according to Five Rivers MetroParks.

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One of the things that makes Carriage Hill MetroPark different from other parks is the number of adorable, super-friendly farm animals waiting to visit with guests. Although all educational programming at both the Riding Center and Daniel Arnold Historical Farm is currently canceled due to COVID-19, visitors can still get up close to the animals in their pastures.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

Spend a day at Carriage Hill

The park’s visitor center is located at 7800 E. Shull Road in Dayton, however, visitors can park at any one of Carriage Hill’s parking areas depending on what section of the park they are exploring that day.

The Riding Center building, all Historical Farm buildings and Visitor Center are also currently closed due to the pandemic.

Lauren Lemons, Five Rivers marketing director, said since the pandemic started, there has been some confusion among visitors with the facilities being closed, but park trails and land still open to explore.

About 20 horses live at the Carriage Hill Riding Center, also currently closed, as well as a handful of relatively rare draft horses, a heritage breed used for traditional farming practices in the 1800s. All animals living on the Historical Farm are used in a traditional farming practice — for example, pulling a tractor or wagon.

Though tours led by a Five Rivers guide aren’t happening right now, visitors can still go on a self-guided tour using the MetroParks free app, OuterSpatial.

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Not only is the park especially gorgeous when the farm’s huge maple trees start shedding fiery red leaves, Carriage Hill welcomes visitors into the 19th century with every beautiful detail.

“The Historical Farm at Carriage Hill MetroPark tells important stories that celebrate our agricultural heritage in the Miami Valley,” according to Five Rivers on its website. “This heritage includes a significant portion of our local landscape shaped by generations of farmers who groomed and cared for the land. Visitors to Carriage Hill Historical Farm will be immersed in 19th-century farm life, a time when the sustainable farm, home and craft practices we see today were simply practical.”

In non-coronavirus times, living-history interpreters in traditional clothing do regular demonstrations of heritage skills and crafts like blacksmithing, woodworking, cooking, quilting and canning. However, the resident goats, sheep, pigs, donkey and other animals are well-worth a self-guided trip back in time.

Directly across the street from the farm, Cedar Lake boasts an ADA-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier. According to Five Rivers, several crappies weighing more than 1.5 pounds each have been caught in the lake and sunfish in the 6- to 9-inch range are also abundant.

Relaxing trails wind around and past Cedar Lake, leading into forest and prairie hiking trails great for short to medium walks or runs.

Carriage Hill offers not only beautiful seasonal views, but offers a gateway into Dayton’s rich history.

Credit: Staff

Credit: Staff

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