Although we normally aren’t free on a weekday, we happened to be at Mohican State Park on Friday, March 4th. We were staying at the lodge for Bob’s birthday. Snow had fallen the previous night, so we had our first opportunity to see what Mohican looked like in winter. What a beautiful sight!
Here is a GPS trace of our hike. We began in the north at Pleasant Hill Dam, traveled south along the westerns side of Clear Fork branch of the Mohican River. After hiking through the Mohican Covered Bridge at the southern end of our hike, we turned north and followed the relatively level trail along the eastern flood plain of Clear Fork.
Although winter seems to drain the color out of everything, what’s left has a stark beauty of its own.
While viewing Clear Fork from the dam, to do our hike you approach the trail to the right side of the river. On the return trip you’ll have to climb the steep stairs up the dam.
All of the evergreens along the trail were decked out in snow.
As we approached Little Lyons Falls, we were pleased to see the water running in this seasonal falls. The trail crosses the stream a short ways before the falls.
Years ago when we hiked this trail, there was a very worn, stone stairs to the base of Big Lyons Falls. In wintry conditions like our most recent hike, it would have been extremely dangerous to even try descending the stairs. But since then volunteers have built wooden stairs, and even in the snow it was a piece of cake to get to the falls’ base.
The only hiker who had preceded us had wisely turned around after checking out the falls and retraced his steps back to the dam. We could both understand his choice to go no farther when we saw how icy the floor of the recess cave was around the falls. Unlike Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills, there are no dry, ice-free areas to traverse. Besides the waterfall, sheets of water also flow down the walls of the recess cave and across the ground.
Bob and I managed to cross the icy floor of the recess cave, Bob with more ease than I experienced. We had chosen slightly different routes. When I got within four feet of dry sand, I faced a glossy smooth, sloped sheet of ice. Although previously there had been bumps under the ice (frozen tree litter, rocks, etc.), here there was nothing to use for footing. I ended up squat-walking the final few feet, thinking that at least if I slipped and fell on my rear, it would only be a few inches until I hit the ice.
So after this we were thinking it would be clear sailing for the rest of our hike. Shortly after this thought passed through our mind we came to our next obstacle. The branches of a fallen tree covered a wide stretch of the trail. Since we were both wearing waterproof hiking boots, we managed to get past the fallen tree by wading across the stream and advancing on the other side of the stream until we cleared the obstacle.
Now it really was clear sailing. The terrain angled slightly up and down as we approached the river.
We soon drew near to the river.
We reached the sounthern most point of our trip when we came to Park Road and its covered bridge. We thought that perhaps the road would be icy, but road crews had done a great job of both salting the road and laying down grit.
At this point it was time to turn back to return to our starting point. Rather than retracing our inbound path we returned via the trail on the opposite side of the river. It’s a fairly level path along the floodplain, a nice one to leave to the end of your hike in the event that you are feeling tired.
As we drew near the end of the hike we could see Pleasant Hill Dam in the distance. A couple fishermen had staked out places at the base of the dam on the cold concrete.
The stairs to the top of the dam are a combination of boards and earth. It’s a long way up. The picture below was taken after we had already climbed about two-thirds of the distance.
We had a great time. When we were planning our trip we weren’t really expecting there to be snow this late in the season, and by the next day it had nearly disappeared. After we finished our hike, we drove to nearby Malabar Farm Restaurant (at Malabar Farm State Park) for a tasty meal.
- TrekOhio: Mohican State Park — This is our original description of the park; it includes information on the park’s location.
- Mohican State Park is located on the border between Richland and Ashland counties. Check out our write-ups on both counties to find links to the official site, and to learn of nearby parks and preserves.