Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a hidden gem located in the SE corner of Fairfield County. The preserve lies just beyond the farthest point of glacial advance at the peak of the ice age. The word, “Wahkeena” is an Indian word meaning, “most beautiful.” Given the variety of flowering shrubs and plants (including eight varieties of native orchids), this seems a very fitting name. You will see a brown sign for Wahkeena on US 33 as you head into the Hocking Hills. Wahkeena is well worth a detour.
As you walk from the parking lot toward the nature preserve, you’ll pass between a marsh and a pond. A boardwalk allows visitors to walk through the marsh. Next to the pond a building houses a nature center staffed by well-informed, friendly naturalists. There are also many nature exhibits inside the nature center, including a live bee hive. There is a Plexiglas tube that allows the bees to enter into the nature center where you can safely watch the contained bees in their hive.
We spoke to the staff at the nature center before beginning our hike, and they gave us a trail map that identified which species of flowers, ferns, shrubs and birds would likely be found at different points along the tail. These trails extend for a couple of miles through hilly terrain. There are bridges over all the streams, and you can stop for a while in a shelter along the trail.
The Wahkeena Nature Preserve comes to us courtesy Dr. Frank Warner and his wife Carmen. When they acquired the property, there were some interesting, old structures already there that remain on the preserve to this day.
Here are some views of the trails.
And here are a few of the plants that we walked by (some were published earlier in April Wildflower Extravaganza). If you hover your cursor over each image, you can see the plant’s identity if we’ve managed to figure it out.
This is a preserve, so pets are not allowed. However, Wahkeena is both an interesting and educational venue for children.
You can easily combine a visit to Wahkeena Preserve with a hike at the nearby Clear Creek Metro Park. Check the operating hours at Wahkeena Preserve prior to visiting. It tends to close early, so I’d recommend going here first.
Related, external links
- The Ohio Department of Natural Resource has its own page on Wahkeena Nature Preserve here. This page provides information on operating hours and directions, plus a contact phone number.
- The Ohio Historical Society owns the Wahkeena Nature Preserve, and they’ve published their own page on the preserve; besides posting some general information and operating hours, it also specifies holidays during which the park is closed. Fairfield County Historical Parks is responsible for management of the site.
- Last but not least, one of the staff members of the preserve (Robyn) has her own blog that reports what’s going on at the nature preserve. You can check out her blog, Wahkeena Nature Preserve, here. It’s worth noting that she posts which flowers are currently in blossom at Wahkeena, especially nice to know during spring. I’ve also added her blog to the blogroll on my sidebar.
Note: Before visiting, please check scheduled dates / hours of operation at Wahkeena site: here.
Last update: 04/07/2013