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
We just published our page on Thanksgiving Buffets at Ohio State Lodges for 2014.
Moonville Tunnel is located in Zaleski State Forest in Vinton County. During our initial visit to Moonville Tunnel, we found the place where the old rail line intersected with the Hope-Moonville Road, and followed the rail line to the tunnel. However this route required us to wade across Raccoon creek. After posting an article on our trip, a visitor to our website, firemanjoe, wrote a comment saying there was a different route that would allow us to visit Moonville Tunnel without wading. Below you’ll find photos and information about this dry route to the tunnel.
The dry route to Moonville Tunnel (pictured above) begins on the same side of Raccoon Creek as the tunnel, so there’s no need to cross the creek.
We spent the Fourth of July weekend at Burr Oak State Park Lodge. While there we hiked what I’m calling the “upper loop.” It is a 4.2 mile hike that begins at the parking lot where Mountville Road terminates at Burr Oak Lake. The terrain for this hike is hilly with a total elevation gain of 1,315.5 ft. During a portion of the hike there were glimpses of the lake through the trees.
Trail passing a yellow blaze.
See TrekOhio’s Halloween Page for a list of seasonal events being held at Ohio State Parks. Activities include campsite decorating, costumes, trick-or-treating, bonfires, hayrides, pumpkin carving, haunted trails, etc. Hueston Woods State Park starts celebrating the season this weekend, but there are activities throughout the month of October.