A great hike with great variety, lots of scenery, and just enough challenge to keep it interesting. You can always lengthen or shorten this route but this hits all the highlights.
Starting from the visitor center, look for the signs with the colored circles on them. The first six miles of this hike will follow the Orange Trail
. You'll initially drop down to the creek and follow it along as it meanders in and out of view.
The Orange Trail
itself is the crown jewel of Germantown Metropark. It offers varied terrain ranging from rooted singletrack to short sections of wide flat dirt roads. The stretch from the dam to the visitor center is the most demanding, with steep up and down trails and many roots along the way.
Eventually, you'll arrive at Manning Road and have to turn right on the road and cross the bridge. The trail will pick up on the other side of the bridge on your right. This portion of this trail on the eastern side of the creek near the campground is very wide and smooth, and here you'll meet the fastest part of the trail as it is fairly level and smooth for a couple of miles.
At the first trail intersection to your left, you'll want to follow the Orange Trail
towards the Pink Trail
. After a half mile, you should intersect the Pink Trail
and turn right to take you back to the Orange Trail
, where you'll turn left again. If you miss this turn, don't worry. You'll just be cutting the hike short by a little more than a mile.
Continue to follow the Orange Trail
until you eventually cross the dam, just below the road. Once on the other side of the dam, the trail becomes much more challenging again. For a nice 8 mile loop, you can just follow the Orange Trail
back to the visitor center at this point.
If you want to continue on this hike, you should turn left on the Yellow Trail
and then right on the Blue Trail
and then left on the Yellow Trail
again. Follow the Yellow Trail
back past your initial turn onto the Blue Trail
to return to the Orange Trail
. Once back on the Orange Trail
, turn right and retrace your steps back around the park.
To make the return journey a little more interesting and different at the end, when you come to the Green Trail
in the last mile, turn right and follow the Green Trail
back to the visitor center.
With terrain that varies from grasslands to prairies to cedar forests, you will see many species of plants and animals if you keep your eyes open! It is also one of the "top rated" local spots for autumn color.