North Mountain Park is a fantastic interpretive center with a comprehensive anthropological and botanical nature trail. Also a full featured softball, baseball, and soccer field facility.
Driving – This 10 minute drive from Ashland Plaza starts south through town towards the university. Turn left after the Shell station to stay on Main Street. Within a mile you’ll turn left on N. Mountain Ave. After the railroad tracks you’ll see the baseball fields on your right. Look for the house past the ball fields and turn right into the lot next to it.
Parking – The paved lot next to the house is a great, free place to park. There is plenty of parking in front of the ball fields as well, but who needs to walk an extra 50 feet, right?
The Adventure – The nature center inside the house has workshop rooms, and offices for staff and volunteers, and they have pamphlets and maps and programs to sign up for – your classic nature center set up. The gardens around the house are filled with local flowers and plants with interpretive labels – your classic garden set up. There is a greenhouse and gazebo and playground and compost piles – your classic instructional set up. Then the paths take off past a duck pond towards Bear Creek – your classic water feature set up. The trails have instructional stations and a number of Native American installations and head out along Bear Creek towards the ballfields.
If you continue on the path uphill when it becomes asphalt, you will reach a nice (unshaded) playground above the ballfields. It’s nice, but it’s really unshaded – and kind of out of the way. Good news, that means it’s not very crowded.
The ballfields are excellently maintained and have all the amenities: Dugouts, stands, pavilions, restrooms, kid areas. If you’re an organized group you can reserve the fields pending fees and forms and insurance obligations with Ashland Parks and Rec. If you an unorganized group, I’d say go play around there until someone kicks you off. Either way, leave it like you found it.