Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Ledges Trail

Large boulder at the foot of the cliffs.

The Ledge Trail is located in the Virginia Kendall Unit of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail follows along the sandstone cliffs that make up Ritchie Ledges. The trail map at the kiosk says that the Ledges trail is a 1.8-mile loop. However, I have seen numerous other sites on the web say the trail is 2.2 miles. According to park officials it is a moderately difficult trail to hike. If the loop isn’t enough of a work-out, there are connector trails leading to other, nearby trails, so you can lengthen your hike to suit your available time and physical ability.

Large boulder at the foot of the cliffs.

Large boulder at the foot of the cliffs.

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Early Summer Evening at Char-Mar Ridge Preserve

Hot-air balloon over the trail

Yesterday we went on an early evening walk at Char-Mar Ridge Preserve. We were half-way around the loop trail when we heard a strange sound. It sounded like a fire-breathing dragon (if there were such things) and it was getting closer. I immediately recognized it and we started watching the sky. Deb was ready with her camera as the hot-air balloon flew over still fairly close to the ground. It drifted overhead, firing its burners to gain more altitude. Then it vanished over the tree line, the roar of the burners fading in the distance.

Hot-air balloon over the trail

Hot-air balloon over the trail

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Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve: Robinson Falls

Robinson Falls (telephoto shot from overlook)

We recently visited Robinson Falls (aka “Corkscrew Falls”) at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve. The waterfall is located off-trail at the preserve, so we obtained a free permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to visit the falls. Along with the permit, they sent us a map showing the falls, where to park, directions, and preserve rules.

Robinson Falls

Robinson Falls

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Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve

Tombstones and flowers

Last summer we visited two of Ohio’s smallest state nature preserves: Bigelow Cemetery and Smith Cemetery. Within these two preserves are remnants of prairie that once extended over 5% of Ohio. Because both sites were 19th century cemeteries, they were undisturbed by the plowing that converted 99% of this rich, prairie soil into Ohio farmland. Today I will discuss the half-acre Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, and I’ll save the nearby Smith Cemetery State Nature Preserve for a later post. Both preserves are located in Madison County and are remnants of a prairie once known as the Darby Plains.

Tombstones and flowers

Tombstones and flowers

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Hell Hollow Wilderness Area

Bench near the top of the stairs... a welcome sight to those returning from the bottom of the gorge.

Hell Hollow Wilderness Area is one of the sites owned and operated by the Lake County park district (Lake Metroparks). It is 783 acres in size, with a total trail length of just 0.65 miles. However, it is nonetheless a strenuous hike due to the 262-step stairway that leads to the base of the ravine in Hell Hollow. On the return-trip that’s an impressive number of steps to climb. Hell Hollow got its name because of how challenging it is to climb out of the ravine. Another Lake County park, Penitentiary Glen, also received its name because of how difficult it is to leave its ravine.

Bench near the top of the stairs... a welcome sight to those returning from the bottom of the gorge.

Bench near the top of the stairs… a welcome sight to those returning from the bottom of the gorge.

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The TrekOhio Challenge – Summer 2016

Challenge accepted!

We’d like to invite our readers to participate in the TrekOhio challenge. The challenge is to complete FIVE hikes during summer (June 21 – Sept 21) 2016 from the ANY of the parks and preserves listed below. The hikes are arranged by Ohio region for your convenience, but feel free to mix and match any five. We’ve provided links to TrekOhio articles to get more information about the hike. Once you’ve picked your five parks or preserves, you choose the trails and hike durations.

So what do you get from participating in the challenge? You’ll get the memories of some great hikes (and perhaps photos too, if you brought a camera).

You’ll also get fame, fortune, and glory!! OK, perhaps a little fame … kind of. We’ll publish a list of names of those who successfully completed the challenge. We’ll also randomly draw five names from the list and send them TrekOhio hats. Full rules are listed below.

Challenge accepted!

Challenge accepted!

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Cedar Bog in Late Spring

Bee emerging from Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

Cedar Bog is a State Nature Preserve located in Champaign County. We visited the preserve twice during the past several weeks to look at the spring wildflowers. Like many people our favorite bloom from this past weekend was the Showy Lady’s Slipper.

Bee emerging from Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

Bee emerging from Showy Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium reginae)

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Mt. Gilead State Park

Autumn shoreline at Mt. Gilead State Park

Mount Gilead is a 181 acre state park in central Ohio which offers some nice hiking trails as well as opportunities for fishing, camping, and horseback riding. The park is located in the town of the same name which is about 45 minutes north of Columbus.

Autumn shoreline at Mt. Gilead State Park

Autumn shoreline at Mt. Gilead State Park

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National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

National Center for Nature Photography

On our recent trip to northwest Ohio, we visited the National Center for Nature Photography. The center is located in Secor Metropark near Toledo. The center features exhibits of the works of nature photographers and occasionally offers classes on nature photography. The center is a small building in the middle of the metropark. It generally shows the works of one artist with the exhibit changing every few months. Admission is free and open to the public.

National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

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Biggest Week in American Birding 2016

Yellow Warbler

The Biggest Week in American Birding is an annual event held in northwestern Ohio. This year it is being held from May 6 to May 15, 2016. Every spring many species of small birds in the warbler family migrate from South America to Canada. In order to store up energy for the flight across Lake Erie, the birds spend some time on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie fattening up on insects. While the birds look for insects, the people look for the birds. We’ve participated in two previous Biggest Weeks toward the tail end of the event. This year we decided to see what it was like at the beginning of the Biggest Week. We joined other birders on the 7th and 8th at Magee Marsh, the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge, and the Toussaint Wildlife Area.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

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