Franklin Mills is a walk in the park

Tiffany Strong

The park allows visitors to walk along the Cuyahoga River and experience Kent’s historic buildings and business district from a different perspective.

Credit: Ben Breier

Credit: Ben Breier

When given the opportunity to take a nature walk and write about it, I jumped at the chance. I quickly learned that my lack of knowledge about Kent and reading maps was going to be a problem, so I called my older, wiser sister to take the journey with me.

After playing a game of Frogger with the cars on Summit Street, we finally reached our destination of Franklin Mills Riveredge Park and also a new (to me) adventurous side of Kent.

As we walked along, the familiar sounds of speeding cars and screaming college kids dissolved into the waves of the raging river that was recently affected by Hurricane Katrina. While looking at my handy map, I tripped over rocks and roots embedded in the ground and hoped the passing family didn’t see me. At that second, I regretted taking this nature walk assignment. Then, the woods seemed to open up.

My sister quickly grabbed her camera and started taking pictures of something across the river. With a different view of the railroad tracks and downtown Kent in focus, the camera shutter was clicking continuously. Being the terrible picture-taker that I am, I pulled out my Kodak digital and took a few pictures of the graffiti and more artsy stuff.

After a while, we put away our cameras and went on our way. Along the trail we met many forks in the road. With help from the map, we veered off the path and witnessed some attention-grabbing historical sites. One of my favorites was the Alpaca Mill because it is adorned in art that seems to be telling a story; it held my attention for a while, which is saying a lot. The brochure came in handy because it contains information about each site that helped us understand the background and learn things about Kent we never knew before this trip.

As we continued, my sister and I also witnessed wildlife near the river. There are no lions, tigers or bears in this wilderness, but there are different assortments of birds. We got the chance to get up close and personal with a lone herring as it perched on a dirt dune nearby.

Suddenly, we hit the end of the trail. I was really getting into the picture opportunities and wanted more adventure. I looked at the map for somewhere else to go, but found that the trail is only about a mile long. To my disappointment, we turned around and headed back to the car.

Reflecting on the walk, I remember seeing a couple snuggling up on a deck watching the river, a boy fishing and another man drawing while listening to his iPod. Not knowing of this beautiful, serene place before this point, I wondered how many others had never taken advantage of all it has to offer.

If you are looking for a fun date night, nice picnic, family fun or just a walk to get your mind off things, I suggest heading over to Franklin Mills Riveredge Park. See it for yourself and have your own adventure.

Contact ALL correspondent Tiffany Strong at [email protected].