A park lover’s paradise in Belpre Township

LITTLE HOCKING – In the morning hours, the place starts to come alive.

First, a grandmother and her granddaughter take their daily walk.

Next, a local man comes armed with water and umbrella as the sky threatens rain.

Finally, a local woman and her little canine companion stop by.

What draws this small group for their daily exercise is the Belpre Township Recreation Park and Arboretum and its almost half-mile paved walking track.

The park is maintained by the Belpre Township Board of Trustees, while the Little Hocking Garden Club cares for the 93 trees in the arboretum.

“Native trees are difficult to find,” said Little Hocking Garden Club Treasurer Berniece McPherson.

She said a nursery in northeastern Ohio used to supply the garden club with all sorts of native trees, but that happens less and less, she said.

Trustee Asa Boring said the township spends about $6,000 per year in mowing the 24 to 25 acres of land included in the park. It takes two township workers with zero-turn mowers about a day to complete the job.

Besides the walking track and arboretum, the parks boasts restrooms, a basketball court, one large pavilion (with water and electricity), two small pavilions, benches and a nature trail.

Carolyn Farley, 76, of Little Hocking, brings to the park her 12-year-old Shih Tzu, Duke, for his walks twice per day.

“He loves to walk up here,” Farley said. “The park is the best thing that ever happened to this area.”

Boring said the park’s heavily used and the pavilions are available to rent, free of charge for parties, reunions or other events.

Layne Marks, 60, who lives on Suzanne Drive, Little Hocking, comes to the park five or six times per week because his street is too dangerous to walk.

“The biggest reason I come here is the safety reason,” Marks said. “You get to meet a lot of people. There’s always somebody down here.”

Walking the trail with her granddaughter, Aleesha Hanson, 11, of Little Hocking, Carol Dickens, said the park would be especially nice if they would get something for children to do -maybe a pool.

Boring said the trustees have considered a stage or other venue for live music to be added to the park, but no firm plans have been developed.