Exploring Old Man’s Cave During the 50th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike

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.

Looking out from Old Man’s Cave.

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Birding at Blacklick Woods on New Year’s Day

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.

Juvenile, red-tailed hawk experiencing his first winter.

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TrekOhio Highlights for 2014

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!

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Approaching Lake Erie while hiking at the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

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Dawes Arboretum

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

Bridges in Japanese garden

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The Ridges Trail in Athens, Ohio

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.

View from Radar Hill, the highest point in Athens.

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Trimmer Arch

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

Trimmer Arch in the Paint Creek Wildlife Area

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