West Virginia: 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

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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Publicize Your Ohio Hiking, Birding, or Outdoor Club

We are putting together a listing of hiking and nature-related clubs in Ohio. In particular, we’re looking for groups involved in hiking, backpacking, birding, canoeing, bicycling, camping, nature photography, and other outdoor pursuits. If you’d like your group to be listed, please fill out the form below.

We have already published our initial list which you can view here.

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Beaver Marsh

Beaver Marsh is located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park near the Cuyahoga River. Years ago it used to be a junkyard with a small stream flowing through it. A local group cleaned up the junkyard in the mid ’80’s and then some beavers dammed the stream creating the marsh.

Green Heron

A Green Heron at Beaver Marsh

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Magee Marsh during the “Biggest Week in American Birding” 2015

Last week we went to Magee Marsh to check out the action at the Biggest Week in American Birding. This was the second time we made an appearance (the first time is described here). This event is set up to celebrate and observe the migration of warblers in their colorful breeding plumage. Many species are on their way north, but their trip is delayed by Lake Erie. Before these small birds attempt to fly over the lake, they stop on Lake Erie’s southern shore to fatten up on bugs, so they’ll have the fuel they need to make it across.

A Canada warbler stopping by Magee Marsh before heading across the lake to Canada.

A Canada warbler on his way to Canada.

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Caesar Creek State Park: Horseshoe Falls, Crawdad Falls, and Suspension Bridge

In April we drove to Caesar Creek State Park to visit a new pedestrian suspension bridge and two waterfalls. Our hikes consisted of two segments on the southern portion of the Perimeter Loop Trail. The yellow-blazed Perimeter Loop Trail is an 11.5 mile loop trail on either side of Caesar Creek Lake. The northern and southern routes are connected by a bridge on one end and Caesar Creek Dam on the other.

Deb in front of Horseshoe Falls

Deb in front of Horseshoe Falls

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The Luna Moth: Male and Female

While hiking at Tar Hollow this past weekend, we spotted a Luna moth perched on a burnt tree trunk. After studying its photo I realized that we now had photos of both the male and female Luna moth, so I thought I would share with you how to tell the difference between the two genders, plus provide a little background information on this moth. However when I showed the photo to some other people, they were soon telling me that the moth looked like it was about two feet wide. So before going on, try clicking on the photo below to behold its immense size.

Female Luna Moth (Actias luna)

Female Luna Moth (Actias luna)

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Pine Hill Park: Crall Woods

Crall Woods is a 97-acre woodland that’s one of two tracts of land making up Pine Hill Park in Ashland County. It was named as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1974. According to a sign in the park’s kiosk, there are three nature trails at Crall Wood with a total length of 2.45 miles. However, we saw two unlisted trails (one under construction and the other complete) that were not listed on the kiosk. All the trails were wide and well-maintained.

In a recent comment to our site Amanda Kiplinger pointed out that Crall Woods is a good site for viewing spring wildflowers, so we arranged to visit the park on a sunny day in mid-April.

Trail

Trail with footbridge.

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