Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve: Pine Ridge Trail

We returned to Lake Katharine Nature Preserve in mid-May to walk the 2.5 mile Pine Ridge Trail. Among the attractions of Pine Ridge Trail are Lake Katharine itself, Rock Run creek, a cascading waterfall, large rock outcroppings and cliffs, a hemlock grove, and magnolia trees.

Bridge over waterfall

Bridge over cascade on Rock Run Creek.

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Basic Fern Identification

For some time I had been wanting to learn more about ferns, so I took advantage of a workshop on fern identification being held at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County, Ohio. Wahkeena is a great place to learn about ferns since 29 species of fern grow there (Wahkeena’s official blog publishes a list of their local fern species). Naturalist Tom Shisler led the workshop which is called Focus on Ferns. In this post I’m going to introduce you to a number of common ferns found in Ohio by summarizing Tom’s presentation.

Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum); it’s always a pleasure to encounter a large ground cover of ferns like these while hiking. The above photo was taken in while hiking in the Oak Openings Metro Park in the Toledo area.

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Ohio Great Outdoors Quiz – Can you identify these Ohio locations?

Based on the popularity of our recent Hocking Hills IQ Quiz, I’ve created a quiz about parks, preserves, and landmarks in Ohio. I’ll provide an image and perhaps a hint or two. See if you can identify the location depicted in the photo. Then click the ‘Show Answer’ button to see if you are correct. I’ve also provided a link to further information if you’d like to visit the location.

1) Let’s start with an easy one – one of the many well-photographed waterfalls in the most popular park in the state.

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Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

Headlands Dunes is a 25-acre preserve just to the east of Headlands Beach State Park. When I’m here I can hardly believe that I’m in Ohio… it’s such a unique place. The sand dunes just off shore of Lake Erie are rare in Ohio because most of the area adjacent to the lake has been developed. Surprisingly a number of plants that originated on the Atlantic coast grow in this small nature preserve. It is thought that they reached this far into the continent thousands of years ago when the immense weight of ice-age glaciers made this part of the continent sink downward. This allowed seawater to reach into Lake Ontario (the Great Lake just to the east of Lake Erie). The Atlantic coastal vegetation followed this ocean incursion into the continent and eventually spread to the shores of Lake Erie.


Clumps of grass growing in the sand of Headlands Dunes.

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Headlands Beach State Park – Ohio’s Largest Beach

Headlands Beach State Park contains the largest natural sand beach in the state of Ohio. The beach located on Lake Erie in Lake County has a mile of beautiful sandy beach. The park is very popular with swimmers and sun bathers in the summer.


The Beach at Headlands State Park.

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Osprey at Hoover Reservoir 2014

Once again, a mated pair of osprey is nesting on one of the platforms at the northern end of Hoover reservoir. We observed one osprey on the perch above the nesting platform. The second osprey was in the nest doing something with the eggs or perhaps newly hatched youngsters. Periodically we would see its head or tail stick up above the nest as it moved around. But because the sides of the nests are so tall, most of the time we couldn’t see it.


One parent observed from its perch while the other was doing work in the nest.

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