by M.K. Sidaway
Bath Nature Preserve will celebrate its 20th birthday by unveiling a new attraction. The permanent Solar System Walk will be open for visitors on Saturday, March 20, the date of this year’s vernal equinox.
Stretching 1.3 miles from the Ira Road Trailhead of the North Fork Trail, 4160 Ira Rd. in the Bath Nature Preserve to Bath Community Park, 1615 N Cleveland-Massillon Rd., each step of the walk will represent a million miles in space.
Signs of the sun, the nine planets and an asteroid belt will be installed to scale of relative distance along the walk. Local artist Alexander Landis created the educational planet signs, which were paid for with a Summit County Community Grant.
March 20 is also Discovery Day, when Spring into Nature begins with a self-guided walk along North Fork Trail, Bridle Trail, Tamarack Trail and the road to the UA Field Station, where 30 temporary signs will be posted through the end of April. The signs, designed by Dr. Lara Roketenetz, community member John Landis and UAFS Americorps member Dani Jacobs, feature flora or fauna and a fun fact about each species.
Walkers can get a Discovery card (at either trailhead) to fill out and submit to the University of Akron Field Station for a small prize.
Park board members will be on hand at both trailheads from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to answer questions about both the Solar System Walk and Spring into Nature trail, to hand out and collect Discovery cards and to offer for sale a Bath Bird Blitz book. The book profiles 80 colorful photographs of birds commonly found at the Bath Nature Preserve and includes a checklist of the 190 bird species that have been observed at the Preserve.
Compiled by Roketenetz and John and Alexander Landis, the book was made possible with a grant from Bath Community Fund and sells for $20, cash or check only.
An estimated 45,000 visitors enjoyed Bath Nature Preserve last year while walking and running with and without their dogs, bird watching, sledding, fishing and more.
Featured image caption: Whimsical planetary characters like Neptune, created by local artist Alexander Landis, will greet visitors along Bath Nature Preserve’s new Solar System Walk. Each illustration represents the Roman or Greek god or goddess for whom the planet was named, with a NASA image of the planet as its head. Photo courtesy Bath Nature Preserve