Wayne National Forest – Athens Unit: Monroe Outlook

Monroe Outlook

Last weekend after hiking at Wildcat Hollow, we drove over to have a look at Monroe Outlook. Monroe Outlook is a scenic overlook providing a large hill-top panoramic view of the area. The site was developed by Wayne National Forest, Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, Little Cities of the Forest Collaboration, and Miller High School.

Monroe Outlook

Monroe Outlook; the sign pictured above is a map showing the direction and distance to various points of interest from the outlook.

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Edge of Appalachia: Lynx Prairie Trail

Trail through prairie opening

The Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve is situated 75 miles south of Cincinnati. The preserve system is managed jointly by the Museum of Cincinnati and the Nature Conservancy. Together its eleven different properties preserve some 16,000 acres of the western edge of the Appalachian Escarpment. Currently four of these properties feature hiking trails. We previously described the Joan Jones Portman Trail. Today we’ll describe a hike we took mid-July on the Lynx Prairie Trail.

Trail through prairie opening

Trail through prairie opening

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Ohio’s Scenic Overlooks

Jacob's Ladder - at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve

Have you enjoyed the thrill of standing in a high place surveying the landscape far below? It’s a bit of a challenge to find such places in a natural setting in Ohio, but not impossible. Below is a list of scenic overlooks or vistas that Deb and I have enjoyed along with links to their location and some notes.

Jacob's Ladder - at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve

Jacob’s Ladder – at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve

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Edge of Appalachia: Joan Jones Portman Trail

View of the Ohio Brush Creek Valley from the promontory at Flood's Point.

The Edge of Appalachia is a 16,000 acre preserve system in Adams County that’s jointly run by the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Nature Conservancy. There are four trails in the preserve that are open the public. The Portman Trail is a great starting pointing for exploring this majestic landscape.

Picnic table overlook the creek. We had a very pleasant lunch here sitting in the shade of one of the trees.

Picnic table overlooking Ohio Brush Creek. We had a very pleasant lunch here sitting in the shade of one of the trees.

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Milford Center Prairie State Natural Area

Prairie dock  (Silphium terebinthinaceum)

Between eight and four thousand years ago what later became Ohio experienced a prolonged drought. This allowed the drought-tolerant plants of the Great Plains to displace Ohio’s more typical, water-loving plants. This eastward thrust of the prairie into Ohio has been referred to as a “prairie peninsula.” The prairie peninsula encompassed nearly 400 square miles of the Darby Plains in western, central Ohio. Today only 1% of this prairie survives. There are a number of MetroParks in the Columbus and Toledo areas that are preserving hundreds of acres of prairie, plus there are several dozens of acres of prairie in Adams County. However there are also tiny patches of prairie that range between 7 acres to a mere half-acre in size. Most of these tiny prairie openings have become part of Ohio’s state nature preserve system. One such prairie remnant can be viewed at the Milford Prairie Center State Nature Preserve.

Prairie dock  (Silphium terebinthinaceum)

Prairie dock reaching for the sky.

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Englewood Metro Park – Visiting Three Waterfalls

Martindale Falls

We visited the 1,900 acre Englewood Metropark in the Dayton area during the summer to hike and view three small waterfalls. Englewood is located just northwest of Dayton near Dayton Airport. It is part of Montgomery County’s Five Rivers MetroParks. The park is named for the Englewood dam on the Stillwater River which flows through the park. The lake created by the dam is known as the Englewood Recreation Reservoirm.

Field of purple cone flowers near park entrance

Field of purple cone flowers near park entrance

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Hocking Hills State Park: Old Man’s Cave / Cedar Falls Loop Hike

Deb just passed through a gap between a cliff and a slump block. The stairs that were carved into living stone are probably the work of the Civilian Conservation Corp, a federal program used to create jobs during the Great Depression.

We are going to describe one of our favorite loop trails in the Hocking Hills State Park. The outbound portion of the the trail follows the Grandma Gatewood Trail, named after the famed Emma Gatewood. The Grandma Gatewood Trail is a segment of the 1,500 mile Buckeye Trail and is marked with blue blazes or blue marker posts.

Deb just passed through a gap between a cliff and a slump block. The stairs that were carved into living stone are probably the work of the Civilian Conservation Corp, a federal program used to create jobs during the Great Depression.

Deb just passed through a gap between a cliff and a slump block. The stairs that were carved into living stone are the work of the Civilian Conservation Corp, a works project of the Great Depression era.

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Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park

The quarry

Deep Lock Quarry is part of the Summit County Metro Park system. The park has several historical features of interest: a canal lock, a sandstone quarry, and millstones that were created from the quarried sandstone. Hikers at Deep Lock Quarry can take advantage of two trails in the 73-acre park: the Quarry Trail and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail (henceforth referred to as the “Towpath Trail”). Both the Cuyahoga Trail and the Buckeye Trail overlap the Towpath Trail and continue beyond the park boundaries. In addition the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad passes through the park.

The quarry

The quarry

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West Virginia: Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks.

Previously our posts have focused entirely on hiking destinations within Ohio, but like a lot of our fellow hikers, we also go hiking in the states that share a border with Ohio. In this post we discuss a trip just beyond Ohio’s southeast border to West Virginia. After crossing the Ohio River into West Virginia, we headed toward Seneca Rocks located in the Monongahela National Forest. The site is a rock climber’s paradise with a variety of climbing routes available. Not being climbers ourselves, we followed a foot trail that ascended 1,000 feet (305m) to an observation deck.

Seneca Rocks.

Seneca Rocks.

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Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve

Deb following the trail through an open area

Chaparral Prairie is a 67-acres state nature preserve with a three-quarter mile loop trail. Located in Adams County, it preserves a rare prairie habitat. Prairies are defined by the type of vegetation that grows in them. In general these plants are drought-tolerant, fire-tolerant and shade-intolerant. They originated in America’s Great Plains and moved eastward thousands of years ago during a centuries-long drought when this area was warmer than now. However as the climate cooled and normal rain levels returned, the prairie vegetation started to be replaced with moisture-loving vegetation that is more typical of eastern North America. In fact many ecologists believe that Ohio’s prairies would have disappeared but for the intervention of Native Americans. American Indians preserved these prairies by setting them on fire at regular intervals. These fires prevented shrubs and saplings from moving into the openings. However after the Native Americans were displaced, the settlers having European roots did not continue the land practices of the Native Americans, and the disappearance of the prairies accelerated.

Deb following the trail through an open area

Deb following the Hawk Hill Loop Trail through an open area

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