SYNOPSIS:  If you are looking for a place to take the kids or grandkids for a few hours, try Edward Ryan Memorial Park in the Lake Carmel neighborhood of Kent.

At the end of a side road, this park has an excellent playground (my kids refer to it as “the place with all the slides”), baseball fields, basketball courts, volleyball pits, a large pavilion, a wooden bandstand platform, picnic tables, barbeques, and a walking and fitness trail – complete with exercise stations.

DIRECTIONS:  To get to Edward Ryan Park from either direction on Route 84, take exit 19 and make a right at the end of the exit ramp onto Route 312.  Go about 1 mile, passing Tilly Foster Farm, and make a right at the light onto Route 6.  Go .3 miles and make a right at the next light onto John Simpson Road.  Go 1.3 miles, passing Centennial Golf Course, and turn right onto Fair Street.  Go 1.8 miles and make a left onto Towners Road.  Go .5 miles.  When the road curves to the right, go straight onto Park Road.  There is a wooded sign on Park Road but it will be facing away from your direction of travel.  Once on Park Road, go .2 miles and you will see the park.  There are some houses off to the left, so to get to the park make a right down the hill.  The road configuration at the entrance to the park is a little strange the first time you visit.  You will see what I mean when you are there. 

THE VISIT:  The park is split into an upper area and a lower area.  The volleyball pits, basketball courts and a baseball diamond are in the upper section, and the playground, pavilion, bandstand, additional baseball diamonds and the fitness trail are in the lower park. 

If you make the immediate right into the first parking area, there is a small red footbridge from the parking lot to a wooded area with picnic tables and benches that are situated alongside the Middle Branch Croton River.  This section flows from Lake Carmel to the Middle Branch Reservoir, which is the body of water you cross over during the short drive on Route 6 if you follow the above directions.

To get to the playground and fitness trail, make a right down the hill after passing the first baseball field and park next to the pavilion.  The kids and grandkids will love this park.  Lots of twisting, colorful slides, a small climbing wall, swings, and an eagle’s nest jungle gym will help the kids burn off some of their seemingly boundless energy.  The parents and grand-parents will like it because the back side of the playground is a steep incline that forms a natural boundary to keep the kids enclosed and within view, and the sandy ground makes for a softer landing for the inevitable fall. 

If you cross the pedestrian bridge that leads over the stream from the parking area, there is a walking and fitness trail with exercise stations – a climbing rope, a balance beam, pull-up bars, parallel bars, etc. – if you are looking for a little outdoor exercise.  (These types of trails offer a well-rounded, interesting, low-cost workout.  It is too bad there are not more of them around.  The only other one I have found in our area is in Reis Park in Somers.)  Unfortunately, I have been unable to get to the fitness trail on more than one occasion because the gate over the bridge was locked. 

 The trail is relatively short, probably no more than 15 to 20 minutes in total.  The path forms a sort of figure “8” with the bridge marking the center point.  The trail follows the stream south for a short distance.  When I was there once with the Cub Scouts, we were lucky enough to witness a fish attempting to jump upstream over a fallen log that had created a damn.

Once you are done with the fitness trail, take the bridge back to the main area of the park.  If you walk downstream along the fence that separates the baseball diamonds from the Middle Branch Croton River, there is an area at the south end of the park that has some benches and really nice views of the stream.  The drop off from the trail to the water is a good 15 feet in some areas so watch the kids – and yourself.  The current can be pretty strong, too.  I visited in the spring of last year when the snow was melting and the water was overflowing the banks.  

If you take the long concrete stairs that lead from the playground to the upper ball field, walk along the first base line and continue straight past right field, there is a short trail through the woods that takes you to the fields behind George Fischer Middle School.  There are some offshoot trails but I haven’t explored them yet. 

If you want to combine a walk in the great outdoors, a workout, and a visit to the playground with the kids, Edward Ryan Memorial Park is a great place to do it all in one place.