Walking Guide

Defiance County General Health District, along with agencies across Defiance County, are proud to present several options of walking-trails in Defiance County! Spending time outdoors can benefit different dimensions of our wellness (emotional, physical, social, environmental, spiritual). On this page, find information that will help you be successful on your journey. Explore the different trail options below.

Do you have a favorite walking trial not found below? Contact us to have the trail added to our webpage.

Prepare for Walking

Warm-up exercises (3 minute warm-up) (Click Here for a warm-up video)

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    • Ankle circles: Standing on one foot, slowly lift other leg off the ground in front of you. Slowly flex that ankle through its range of motion, making circles you’re your toes. Do 6-8 circles, then reverse direction and do 6-8 more. Switch feet and repeat
    • Leg swings: Standing on one leg, swing the other leg loosely from the hip in a front to back motion. Keep it relaxed and unforced like the swinging of a pendulum. Your foot should swing no higher than a foot or so off the ground. Do 15-20 swings on each leg.
    • Figure-8 Leg swings: Just like the leg swings above, swing one leg from the hip in a front to back motion, but this time, trace a figure-8 with your leg. Your leg should trace a circle in front of the body and a circle behind. Do 15-20 swings on each leg.
    • Pelvic loops: Stand with your hands on your hips, your knees gently bent, and your feet hip-width apart. Keep your body upright and make 10 slow, continuous circles with your hips, pushing them forward gently, to the left, back and to the right. Then, reverse directions and repeat.
    • Arm Circles: Hold both arms straight out to your sides, making yourself into letter T. Make 10-12 slow backward circles with your hands, starting small and finishing with large circles, using your entire arm. Shake out your arms, then repeat with 10-12 forward circles.
    • Hula-Hoop Jumps: Begin hopping in place on both feet. Keep your head and shoulders facing forward, and begin to twist your feet and lower body left, then right, going back and forth on successive hops, 20 times.

Stretches (Printable Stretching Guide

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    • Side reach: Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
    • Wall push: Lean your hands on a wall and place your feet about 3 to 4 feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
    • Knee pull: Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee toward your chest, hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg.
    • Leg curl: Pull your right foot toward your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your bent knee pointing straight down. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your other foot and hand.
    • Hamstring stretch: Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that one leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your other foot flat on the surface below. Straighten your back, and if you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and then change sides and repeat. If you don’t feel a stretch, slowly lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch.

Proper Attire

  • Shoes: Shoes are the most important part of your walking gear.
    • Generally flat, but flexible so your foot rolls with each step.
    • Fit well, with enough room for your feet to spread out while walking.
    • Socks that are comfortable (try cotton or sweat-wicking materials to keep feet drier and prevent blisters)
    • Trade out old shoes for new ones when they start wearing out (around 500 miles)
  • Clothing: Comfortable.
    • Try layers so you can take items off as you warm up.
    • Layering with a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or windproof jacket when chilly or windy outside.
  • Sunscreen: protect skin from sun
  • Hat: keeps sun out of your face in the summer, and helps keep you warm in the winter by trapping the heat that you lose at the top of your head.
  • Vest: If you are walking outside and it is dark, try wearing a reflective vest so it is easy for drivers/bikers to see and avoid you. If you do not have a vest, wear bright colored clothes.

Benefits of Walking

  • Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
  • Prevent and/or manage various conditions, including:
    • Heart disease, Stroke, High Blood Pressure, Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve muscle endurance
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Improve symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Reduce high cholesterol and lower blood pressure
  • Increase life expectancy

Extra Tips

  •  Hydration:
    • Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, even on chilly days.
  • Walk where you can avoid traffic (like the defiance county walking trails)
    • Or areas with sidewalks.
    • If you have to walk on a street without sidewalks, always walk facing traffic.
    • Only cross at crosswalks.
    • Keep ears and eyes open for any traffic.
  • Remember to breathe!
    • Keep a rhythm. Inhale one deep breath for four steps, then hold that breath for two steps. Then exhale for four steps. Hold for 2 steps. Then repeat.
    • Breathe in (step 1,2,3,4) hold (step 1,2) breathe out (step 1,2,3,4) hold (step 1,2)

Independence Dam State Park

Independence Dam State Park

Independence Dam State Park covers 591-acres situated along the banks of the beautiful Maumee River. This park is located approximately 3 miles east of Defiance on St. Rt. 424 and offers recreational opportunities including boating access, hiking trails, camping, fishing, scenic drives, and picnic areas.

A hiking trail, once the towpath for the Miami/Wabash/Erie Canal, meanders between the old canal and the river for a distance of three miles ending in Florida, Ohio. This trail offers imaginative trips into the colorful past of Ohio’s canal era.

The Dam is located at 27722 State Route 424, Defiance, OH 43512 

Thoreau Wildlife Reserve

Thoreau Wildlife Reserve

Thoreau Wildlife Reserve is now open to the public for the enjoyment of Nature with it’s 4 nature trails that highlight meadows, woodlands, wetlands and old growth forest. The Reserve covers approx. 250 acres with 2 miles of trails.

Thoreau Wildlife Reserve is working with the Audubon Sanctuary Program to encourage blue birds, wood ducks and mallard ducks to nest on the property. Parking is limited and hours of operation are from dawn to dusk. Visitors must stay on designated trails and only foot traffic is permitted in the preserve. Dogs are permitted but always on a leash. To safeguard the preserves natural resources we ask that all visitors abide by the “leave no trace” rules of conduct.

Numerous signs can be found along the trails with reference to the thoughts of H.D. Thoreau who inspired the Reserve.

Thoreau Wildlife Reserve is located at 10485 Haller Road, Defiance, OH 43512


Defiance Reservoir & Walking Trails

Defiance Reservoir & Walking Trail

The Reservoir Nature Trail is an 8’ wide, multi-use trail extending from the Defiance Reservoir parking lot through about 2500′ of natural wooded area. It connects to the ‘lower’ pathway around the municipal reservoir. This walkway offers opportunities for recreational uses such as bird watching, leaf-peeping, or just enjoying quiet walks through nature. It is intended that habitat improvement projects would be performed all along this walk to increase an already robust wildlife population.

The ‘upper’ trail is a 1-1/4 mile stone walkway around the top of the reservoir that provides unobstructed views of the reservoir and occasional waterfowl.  Benches are spaced along the walk and handicapped parking is provided near the boat ramp.

The Reservoir trails utilize a section of the historical Miami & Erie Canal along Canal Road and connects to the Buckeye Trail which, in turn, connects Defiance to the scenic 7-state North Country Trail.

The Reservoir Trail is located at 1129 Precision Way, Defiance, OH 43512


Oxbow Lake & Wildlife Area

Oxbow Lake & Wildlife Area

Oxbow Lake lies 10 miles northwest of the city of Defiance, and can be accessed from State Route 15 at Schick Road. Fish of Interest for Anglers include Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Green sunfish and Bullhead.  The operation of watercraft with any motor is permitted but at idle speed only without creating a wake. There is a small boat launch located on the northern shore of the lake.

The Oxbow Lake Wildlife Area is a 416-acre area situated in the glaciated lake plain of Ohio and has a slightly rolling topography. Some steep land lies adjacent to Mud Creek, which bisects the area. Large cottonwoods and sycamores are found along Mud Creek. The upland woods consist mostly of oaks and hickories.  Migrating shorebirds and songbirds can be observed utilizing the lake edges and woodlots during spring and fall. Other types of wildlife such as tree swallows and great blue herons make Oxbow Lake their home territory for the summer months.

Oxbow Lake is located at 9 Schick Rd, Defiance, OH 43512