Ramser Arboretum is a 680-acre arboretum in Knox County that is privately-owned, but open to the public (except during deer-gun season). It features more than five miles of hiking trails that may be used by cross country skiers during the winter.
Wide path through the woods
On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike set an attendance record with over 5300 people attending. Five hundred lucky people received a commemorative hiking stick. Bob and I just hiked the Old Man’s Cave portion of the hike this year.
Looking out from Old Man’s Cave.
On New Year’s Day we went on our first hike of the year: a birding hike at Blacklick Woods Metro Park. About twenty people joined a park naturalist, Colleen, for the two-mile hike. If you’re beginning birders like us, it’s really helpful to join up with a group such as this. On a number of occasions the naturalist or other members of the group pointed out birds that I’m sure I would have missed otherwise. We also learned some of the places that certain species of bird like to frequent, so when we are out by ourselves we can fall back on our new found knowledge.
Juvenile, red-tailed hawk experiencing his first winter.
In reviewing 2014, we’ve come up with our annual TrekOhio highlights!
Best Hike of the Year
We’ve excluded the Hocking Hills Winter Hike, which otherwise would probably win best hike every year. Beyond this annual hike, below are our favorites for this year.
Deb: My favorite hike for the year was the one that we took at the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. Living miles from the ocean, it is easy to forget that Ohio has beach dunes, but thanks to Lake Erie, we do. The hike is very scenic, and the dune plants are rare and intersting. And we were both surprised to see a deer grazing on the beech!
Approaching Lake Erie while hiking at the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve
Dawes Arboretum located in Central Ohio consists of 1,800 acres of formal gardens, fields, ponds, and forests, including eight miles of hiking trails. Among its facilities are a visitors center, rest rooms, picnic areas and shelters. The meticulously maintained formal gardens are a popular venue for weddings.
Bridges in Japanese garden
At 320 acres Gifford State Forest is the smallest state forest owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The sign at the trailhead suggests that there are a total of 4.7 miles of trail. We hiked most of those miles this past July, and here’s our report as to what they’re like.
What’s referred to as The Ridges is over 1000 acres of land owned by the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The university makes use of a number of buildings on this land to house administrative offices, an art gallery and an art museum, among other things. In addition the Ohio University has allowed non-profit organizations to develop a number of trail through the area. Among them are the Ridges Trail, the Athens Trail, the Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk, and the River Valley Nature Trail. Today I’ll be focusing on the Ridges Trail which leads to Athens’ highest point, Radar Hill. I’ll also briefly touch on the Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk. In a previous article on Strouds Run and Sells Park, we discussed hiking a different portion of the Athens Trail.
View from Radar Hill, the highest point in Athens.
During a recent hike to Trimmer Arch, I was startled when my peripheral vision caught sight of “smoke” rising up around my ankles. When I stopped and looked down, I realized that it wasn’t smoke, but instead clouds of spores.
Kicking up a cloud of spores.
Trimmer Arch is a classic, round-topped arch, the best such specimen in Ohio. It’s located in Ross County within the Paint Creek Wildlife Area. The interior opening of the arch spans 14 ft. (4.6 m) and rises 8.6 ft (2.6 m). Trimmer arch formed within a narrow outcropping that extends into a U-shaped ravine bounded by two streams. The rock itself is Greenfield Dolomite, a type of sedimentary rock that forms horizontal bedding planes one atop another like a stack of pancakes. Due the the thinness of these bedding planes and the narrowness of the outcropping, the rock eroded away creating the arch that we see today.
The trip to the arch was quite the adventure for Bob and myself. This was the first time that we tried to reach a specific point in a forest without relying on trails. Typical recreational use of Ohio’s wildlife areas includes hunting, fishing, and trapping, but not hiking, so trails are usually not present. To reach our destination we brought a variety of electronic gear, so we could locate the published GPS coordinates for the arch. As a backup, we also brought spare charging units for our GPS devices, plus a paper map and compass in case all of our technology failed us.
Trimmer Arch in the Paint Creek Wildlife Area
October is our favorite month for hiking. Below are some of our fall-color highlights for the month.
Mt. Gilead State Park